New developments in Sacramento's fight to keep Kings team
Mayor Kevin Johnson presented case at NBA Board of Governors meeting
The NBA strangely appointed Clay Bennett to head a relocation committee
David Stern doesn't view Ron Burkle as 'savior'; didn't discuss Kings' finances
The Kings' increasingly compelling relocation script started looking strangely familiar on Friday.
See, Wednesday's goodbye game in Sacramento, where the local team roared back from a huge deficit to force overtime and ... well, they lost to the hated Lakers on a heart-breaking night the locals will never forget. Kings fans are desperately hoping the outcome is different this time, though, and mayor Kevin Johnson has -- against the sort of odds the Kings faced when down by 20 points in the fourth quarter the other night -- revived hope that they can pull off the hugest of upsets.
The combination of Johnson's comprehensive pitch to the NBA Board of Governors on behalf of Sacramento on Thursday in New York, and the remaining questions about the Maloofs' proposed arrangement in Anaheim has led to the league's deadline to file for relocation being pushed back for a second time -- this time to May 2. The NBA, according to Johnson, is now planning on sending a group to Sacramento in the coming weeks to investigate his claims that the market is far more viable than the recent history might show.
"[The presentation showed] that we have a corporate base here in Sacramento, and that corporate base could step up, and that it was untapped to a certain degree," Johnson said. "In a very short amount of time, we were able to get $7 million of additional dollars from our corporate community, and I think that resonated with the owners. The second thing was to update them on the Entertainment and Sports Complex, and I was very clear that we have a stellar [arena-building] team in place. We have the feasibility study [from the group expected] by end of May, and we're on track to do that."
Johnson, the former NBA player who has taken his share of criticism for perceived missteps in this process, was being lauded locally for his clutch performance. More importantly for Johnson and his newly energized supporters, Stern sounded genuinely intrigued with the notion that a solution could still be had in Sacramento.
"The mayor, together with the ICON [arena] group that he brought in ... was persuasive in telling the committee that there seems to be an intensity that makes it the most intense time of interest in the community that he has seen," Stern said on a conference call. "He thinks there may be some intelligent way to consider an arena project at a downtown site where the city owns land, where the federal government is supporting something called an 'intermodel,' and so the owners wanted to know more."
All things considered, it was a Sacramento success.
"I have no idea what the outcome will be, but I feel very confident about our ability to build a very good case," Johnson said. "I think we've done that, and we bought more time ... We did not think it was a Hail Mary and we didn't think we were going out there with promises that couldn't be fulfilled. We went out there with a business approach."
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