Luring Sonics II Is Becoming a Pipe Dream; Sacto Kings Look Like They're Staying Put

All the hoopla and feel-good cheer that surrounded Mayor Mike McGinn's rollout last week of a new sports-arena proposal hinged to a large degree on the city's optimism that it could poach the cash-strapped NBA franchise in Sacramento. That may have all gone down the drain today.

In a joint statement released this afternoon, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and NBA Commissioner David Stern said they have agreed to a "work plan" in hopes of reaching a deal to finance a new arena by the March 1 deadline.

Johnson, Stern, and the Maloof family, which owns the Kings, will meet during this weekend's All-Star festivities in Orlando, Fla.

As Seattle is reporting, "If a plan can be hammered out in time, a term sheet will be announced March 1 and the Sacramento City Council will vote on the plan at its March 6 meeting."

"Sacramento stands ready to meet the March 1 deadline," Johnson said in the statement. "Our approach makes good on the principles that have guided us throughout this process: protecting the taxpayers, creating jobs, and pursuing an open and transparent process."

The key obstacle remains how much the Kings will contribute. Under the proposed agreement, the city of Sacramento will kick in $190-$230 million by leasing parking garages to private investors; another $75-$100 milllion would come from the Kings, and $40-$60 million from arena operator AEG.

The PI reports:

The two sides are making progress and hope to bridge the remaining gap to finance the estimated $406 million arena, which would open for the 2015-16 season in the downtown Sacramento rail yards. Despite attempts by Anaheim and Seattle to swoop in and lure the Kings, Stern said the league is making every attempt to keep the franchise in California's capital.

"We appreciate the work of the City of Sacramento and (our) discussions have been constructive," Stern said in a statement. "Our hope is that current momentum continues in a way that we're able to reach a deal by March 1 that makes sense for all parties."

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