Mayor: Vigorous arena discussions will continue
Mayor Kevin Johnson held an impromptu press conference Wednesday to give an update on progress with discussions between Sacramento, the NBA and the Sacramento Kings’ owners, the Maloof family.
“There are great discussions going on between the city and the NBA and we are confident that we, as a city, are doing our part to make (a deal) happen,” Johnson said.
Johnson appeared at the press conference flanked by City Manager John Shirey and City Council members Jay Schenirer, Angelique Ashby, Darrell Fong, Rob Fong and Bonnie Pannell.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been before, and the bottom line is – the city controls its own destiny,” Johnson said.
Earlier Wednesday, Johnson and NBA Commissioner David Stern released a joint statement that outlined a revised “work plan” for the arena financing plan negotiations.
The plan maintained the original March 1 deadline for a term sheet to be completed, but moved the date for a formal presentation and vote at City Council back one week to March 6.
Johnson said he and a delegation of city representatives will travel to Orlando Friday to meet with Stern and the Maloofs and members of the NBA Relocation Committee to continue “vigorous” discussions.
“This is not an easy project for any of us. There are tough questions that need to be answered,” Johnson said, “but we want to try to fully negotiate a deal that’s a win-win for everyone.”
Representatives from Anschutz Entertainment Group, the proposed operator for the new entertainment and sports complex, will not be at the weekend meeting, Johnson said.
He added that all of the parties involved are comfortable with AEG’s role in the talks, and AEG’s absence will not prevent the talks from continuing.
With five City Council members by his side at the press conference, Johnson said that he will have at least six votes when the time comes.
“It’s a full commitment by the whole council to say we want to give this thing a shot,” Johnson said. “Job creation is important to all of us, and we know that if we build the (entertainment and sports) complex, it means more jobs.”
Johnson acknowledged that there isn’t a final deal yet, and there are still issues that need to be worked out.
Still, he told the media that many questions that have been asked during the process are going to be addressed by the March 6 council meeting.
“Everyone knows it’s non-binding, but essentially all parties agree that there is a willingness to go forward,” Johnson said.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.