Johnson: Arena deal with Maloofs is ‘absolutely’ dead
Mayor Kevin Johnson admitted defeat Friday as the deal to build a new arena and keep the Kings in Sacramento failed despite the “blood, sweat, tears and effort” that Johnson said went into it.
“Is the deal as we know it dead? Absolutely,” Johnson said.
In what turned out to be the third major press conference in New York Friday regarding the arena deal, Johnson told media that he is baffled by the Kings owners, the Maloofs, and he doesn’t understand how things fell to this point.
“We felt we had an agreement (in Orlando), they didn’t feel that we did. That’s a pretty fundamental difference,” Johnson said. “It became very clear by their actions today that they didn’t want to make a deal.”
Johnson met with the Maloofs for more than two hours Friday, he said, for a discussion that Johnson described as “mostly civil.”
The breaking point for Johnson, he said, was the Maloofs’ refusal to put up collateral for the city’s refinance of their loan.
“No elected official in their right mind would accept that. They would execute me in Sacramento if I came home with that,” Johnson said. “At that point, the meeting was over.”
With the framework deal that was prepared in Orlando March 1 scrapped, Johnson said the city of Sacramento will have to dig deep to see what the next step for the city will be.
“We have a week or two left in the season and we need to support our team – that’s the respectable thing to do,” he said.
One thing that Johnson said he is certain will not be an option is any public involvement is rehabilitating the King’s current arena facility, Power Balance Pavilion.
“If it’s up to me, there is no way we as a city will invest in that building,” Johnson said. “For us to just help them out at this time when they might just change their mind again – I can’t see a scenario where we would want to publicly assist them.”
George Maloof suggested a revamp of the building as an option in a press conference earlier on Friday.
“I’ve always said there were three possible scenarios: same owners, same team. New owners, same team. DIfferent owners, different team,” Johnson said. “In any case, Sacramento wants to remain an NBA city.”
Johnson did not say if the city would be involved in reaching out for the alternate scenarios.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter with The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.