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There may no longer be an arena deal, but Mayor Kevin Johnson said he isn’t giving up on an entertainment and sports complex for Sacramento – not until the city has considered all options, including building an arena without an anchor tenant.
“This is not over, in my opinion,” Johnson said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “It doesn’t do us any good to continue to point fingers and blame. We don’t have the deal we thought we had, so we need to figure out what plan B looks like.”
Options to be considered, Johnson said, may include scaling back the original project to cut costs or to build the facility in stages, adding features over time.
Building a venue without an anchor tenant is also an option that should be on the table, Johnson said.
“We have a lot of financial and economic and legal issues to look at, and we want to take the next two or three weeks to do that,” Johnson said. “We need to see what can or can’t be done.”
Anschutz Entertainment Group partnered with the city to be the arena operator and has had relative success building a stadium in Kansas City without the benefit of an anchor tenant, Johnson said.
“(The Kansas City model) is something that has been proven and that can work,” he said. “They have a different market, though, so can that work here? I can’t answer that. But we need to look at it.”
Another option that Johnson said should be considered is bringing in a team from an alternate sports franchise, such as hockey, that would be an anchor tenant but not in competition with the Kings if they remain at Power Balance Pavillion.
The Sacramento Kings owners, the Maloofs, have said they have no interest in selling their team, however, Johnson said he has been talking to potential buyers for the team, in case the Maloofs change their minds.
“It’s their business, they can do what they want,” Johnson said. “They can relocate, they can sell or they can stay in Sacramento. We want to remain an NBA team, but we can’t put all our eggs in one basket.”
If the city pursues an arena, Johnson said, the possibility of using funds from leasing the city’s parking assets may still be part of the deal for the city – but he could not say if the value of those assets would reach the previously estimated $240 million if the Kings were not the anchor tenant.
Despite being resigned to the possibility that the Kings may leave Sacramento, Johnson refused to speculate on if – or where – the Maloofs might take the team if they choose to relocate.
“We don’t control any of that. If that’s the reality, let’s regroup and press on with a different dynamic,” Johnson said.
“I don’t like us being in a position as a city where we are being held hostage by anyone where we can’t do what’s in the best interest of the city,” he added.
The City Council will discuss arena-related matters in a closed session before the City Council meeting Tuesday, Johnson said, and he hopes to have clearer answers about a plan B for the city within four weeks.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.