EDITORIAL: Keeping Kings around vital for Sacramento’s future

The layout for the proposed arena to be built by contributions made by the Maloofs, is to be located on the property behind the historic rail yards downtown.

The layout for the proposed arena to be built by contributions made by the Maloofs, is to be located on the property behind the historic rail yards downtown.

Editorial Staff

It needed to happen, and it finally did. Sacramento and the Kings reached a preliminary deal to construct a sports and entertainment facility, thus keeping the team here long-term.

The deadline to complete a deal was Thursday, and the sides finally agreed to the framework of the deal – a deal that needed to happen to keep this city relevant.

Despite being the capital of the most populated state in the union, this city isn’t known for much other than the Kings. Sure, it has the trees, the river and … well, that’s about it.

The Kings are the defining feature, attraction and source of entertainment in this city. If Sacramento had lost them, there would be almost no reason to visit the city.

According to a Sacramento Bee article, the Maloof family has pledged anywhere from $70 to $75 million initially and another $75 million over the life of the deal.

A lot of public outcry came when the Maloofs didn’t step up in the beginning and offer to finance part of the arena, at least not a tangible amount. This led some to wonder if the family even had the money to fund such a venture.

Well, apparently it does.

The Sacramento City Council voted on Feb. 14 to privatize the city’s parking and will use that money to help fund an arena. The money will account for more than half of the estimated $387 million complex to be built in the downtown area.

Developer AEG is reportedly bridging the gap between how much the arena will cost and how much money is committed to building it – $9 to $10 million annually from privatized parking and the roughly $150 million contribution from the Maloofs – to make this deal happen. Despite the Maloof family’s reported debt, it will use ticket surcharges to supplement the money it has pledged.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has been determined to keep the team in here since he took office. Enough cannot be said about what he has done. As a former NBA player and local product, he knew the importance of keeping a professional basketball team in the city.

“Let’s just call it what it is: Kevin Johnson saved the Sacramento Kings,” said KTHK-AM radio personality and Kings’ play-by-play announcer Grant Napear on his Monday afternoon show.

It was just more than 10 months ago when it looked like the Kings were close to leaving the city for Anaheim. It seemed a lot hadn’t changed in the months leading up to this game-changing day, but this is the best move for all parties involved.

Some speculated if the Kings left for Anaheim, Seattle or where ever, this city would have been out of the professional sports scene for the foreseeable future.

The issue goes deeper than sports, though.

The downtown arena will not only be the hottest ticket in town when it’s completed in time for the 2015-16 season, but it will be the place to see big-name musical performers and other attractions to play at the new complex.

The first round of the NCAA Tournament, which used to frequent Arco Arena (now Power Balance Pavilion), hasn’t returned to Sacramento since 2007. The NCAA flat-out stated Arco Arena was not up to its standards to host the first round of the tournament.

Also, Sacramento State students commence at Power Balance Pavillion. Perhaps this means future graduates will get to walk the stage at the new arena – but that’s a way off.

There are still hurdles in this process. The city council has to approve the plan during its Tuesday meeting. That vote will happen after the full financing plan is released on Thursday. Some think it’s a slam dunk, some are cautiously optimistic. The city needs the council to have at least five of the nine members to vote in favor of the deal for it to pass.

One thing is for sure: Sacramento needs this team. There is no doubt about that. Our hats are off to the Maloof family, Kevin Johnson and everyone involved in keeping this team in Sacramento. Not only does it help the potential short- and long-term improvement of downtown, but it also helps in the long-term if the city ever tries to acquire another professional sports franchise.

This new arena has the chance to revitalize Sacramento’s lifeless downtown scene, and that can only be a positive for the community.


The Editorial staff can be reached at [email protected]