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Sacramento fights for Kings; Seattle arena advances

[author ]Kevin Reichard is publisher of Arena Digest.[/author]Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he’s got 10,000 commitments for season tickets, $50 million in sponsorship money and a $448 million downtown arena plan — but it may be too little, too late, as a Seattle group already owns 7 percent of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Johnson has been tirelessly working on a plan to keep the Kings in Sacramento, despite an agreement to sell the team to an ownership group seeking a tenant for a new Seattle arena. The group led by Chris Hansen has an agreement to buy 65 percent of the team from the Maloof family and minority owner Bob Hernreich, and it’s been disclosed the Hansen group also tentatively bought another 7 percent of the team from Bob Cook in bankruptcy court.

One big thing missing in Johnson’s pitch: a local owner. The Maloofs have made it quite clear they’re ready to walk away from the NBA, and current Kings minority owner, John Kehriotis, says he’s unable to put together an ownership group.

Basically, the new arena plan is similar to the one that failed to sway the Maloofs and the NBA on the economic worthiness of the market. From the Sacramento Bee:

The city would borrow $212 million against future parking revenue. Much of the rest of the financing would come from donating city land worth $38 million to the investor group.

Fehr said the parking operations should generate plenty of cash to pay off the bonds. “We’re not making assumptions that we would grow into our debt,” he said.

City Manager John Shirey said the deal is significantly better for the city than the March 2012 deal negotiated with the Maloofs – an agreement that was approved by the NBA but abandoned a month later by the family. That deal called for a new arena at the downtown railyard.

New Seattle Arena

Meanwhile, the developers of a potential Seattle arena unveiled some more renderings of a potential new facility. Writes Chris Hansen:

The design of these levels will allow us to open or close each Sonic Ring separately and thus modularly add capacity for events as needed, while effectively hiding the empty space and making the building feel super intimate given the steepness of the building and vertical stacking of the rings. Again, each Ring will have approximately 800-900 fixed seats, with drink rails and standing room behind them to accommodate another 700-1500 patrons per level….

In addition to what is shown in the pictures here, we also plan on having several different themes on each ring, ranging from sports bar style environments and areas dedicated to “super fans” craving few distractions, to family-themed areas catering to young Sonics fans that still have a hard time sitting in their seats for two hours.

Johnson is expected to meet with NBA officials this week. Meanwhile, the NBA Board of Governors is expected to review the Seattle sale at their next meetings, set for April 18 and 19.

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