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Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will represent the Kings at the National Basketball Association draft lottery next week, team owners and the mayor announced at a Tuesday rally.
Johnson and developers representing the ICON-Taylor arena team will meet in Las Vegas Wednesday with George Maloof, whose family controls a majority share of the team, to discuss the arena project. The Maloof family owns the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
On stage at a Kings rally in Cesar Chavez Plaza, Gavin and Joe Maloof asked the former NBA All-Star player to step up for them next Tuesday at the draft lottery at the NBA Entertainment studio in Secaucus, N.J.
"I accept! I accept! I accept!" Johnson yelled into a microphone, his shouts reverberating from speakers and echoing off the walls of the Citizen Hotel, California Environmental Public Agency headquarters, Park Tower and historic City Hall in downtown Sacramento.
Sacramento’s mayor led a regional effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento – making a case to keep the team to the NBA Board of Governors in New York and persuading the league to send a team to gather more information in April. The Maloofs announced May 2 the team would stay in Sacramento for at least another year.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Kings Head Coach Paul Westphal and former star Kings players including Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson and Scot Pollard joined Johnson and the Maloofs on stage at the rally's climax.
As many as 6,500 fans turned out to support the Kings and catch glimpses of the players, according to figures provided by the NBA.
Fans like Laurie Fredricks of Midtown, Anna Ampania of Roseville and Edward Leon of Sacramento said they'd like to see a new arena replace Power Balance Pavilion and would even support a tax increase to see that happen.
"I'm a major Kings fan," said Fredricks, who had never been to an NBA game until moving to Sacramento in 2000. She fell in love with the Kings and pro basketball after seeing them play at Arco Arena.
"This town cannot lose the one major sports franchise we have," she said.
Fans who gathered in the park heard Christie, Jackson and Pollard tell stories about games and watched game clips on a 20-foot by 12-foot screen. Kings mascot Slamson, Kings PA announcer Scott Moak and many more also entertained the crowd.
Many on stage spoke about Sacramento Kings fan loyalty and the need to push ahead to get a new arena built. Kings legend Chris Webber, who has said publicly he's working on a plan to get private investors for the arena, riled up the crowd with a videotaped appearance shown just before the mayor and the Maloofs took the stage.
"The world heard you," Webber told fans. "Let them know we will not lose our team. Go Sacramento!"
The meeting in Las Vegas will be the first between the ICON-Taylor team, which is preparing an arena feasibility study for the city, and George Maloof, who is overseeing the arena effort for the family. NBA attorney Harvey Benjamin and Johnson will take part in the meeting.
The city needs hard data from the Maloofs for the arena feasibility study. The brothers said previously they would share revenue information if the team stayed in Sacramento for the 2011/12 season. However, Johnson's staff could not say whether Maloof will turn over financial statements at the meeting Wednesday.
The NBA and the Maloofs are planning special events to promote the team and ticket sales in May and June. An event may be held during the Second Saturday Art Walk and possibly the draft lottery.
Current season ticket holders have until June 3 to renew their season tickets. An open house to allow new season ticket buyers to choose their seats will be held June 8 and 9. New season ticket buyers must make $100 deposits per seat, said Chris Granger, executive vice president of the NBA's Team Marketing and Business Operations.
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.