Sacramento now is no more than Plan B for the Sacramento Kings.
Mayor Kevin Johnson said Thursday that his 40-minute meeting the day before with team owners left him believing that the team has its sights set on Anaheim, and that Sacramento's only chance is if negotiations in Southern California fall through.
The mayor told reporters at a news conference Thursday that he does "not think Sacramento can influence the outcome" of the Maloof family's negotiations.
Johnson said the Maloofs told him that they are not willing to hand over pivotal financial documents to a Sacramento-sponsored team that is studying how to build an arena in the city. The mayor said he took that as a sign that the Maloofs "are fully exploring their options, which appears to be Anaheim."
The Sacramento group, headed by downtown developer David Taylor and arena builder ICON Venue Group, has been unable to obtain a meeting with the Maloofs.
Johnson said the Maloofs also said "absolutely not" when he asked if they would be willing to sell the team if an ownership group from Sacramento steps up to buy it.
"So, for anybody out there who's wondering, they have no desire to sell the Sacramento Kings to a local ownership group or an ownership group anywhere," he said.
The mayor has said repeatedly that he would fight to keep the Kings since word leaked two weeks ago that the team was negotiating to move to the Honda Center in Anaheim. But he noted Thursday that the Maloofs are business owners and must do what works best for them.
Sacramento, he said, is a mid-sized market with an old arena. "Even if our team is selling out, if you don't have more luxury suites and more club seats, it's hard economically to compete."
Anaheim has a solid corporate base and is in a large television market, he said. "Each of those are revenue streams that are much greater than what we have in Sacramento."
Still, Johnson said the Maloofs told him "they love Sacramento, they've been committed to Sacramento and they want everyone to know that. Their issue was not that they don't like Sacramento. They think we have the best fans."
Sacramento still has a chance to keep the team, Johnson said.
"If the dust settles, and Anaheim is not where they end up," he said, "they would 100 percent be willing to sit down with the ICON/Taylor group moving forward."
A trio of downtown business leaders held their own news conference Thursday to say that Sacramento should press forward with a regionally based effort to build a downtown sports and entertainment facility, regardless of whether the Kings stay.
"This is bigger than the city of Sacramento," Downtown Sacramento Partnership Executive Director Michael Ault said at a convention center news conference. "This is about a facility this community deserves. The region needs to play a part."
Ault was joined by Matt Mahood, president of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and Steve Hammond, president and CEO of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Key business and government leaders from around the region said they were receptive to the idea. Several agreed that an arena is a regional amenity, and that the existing Power Balance Pavilion in Natomas (formerly called Arco Arena) may no longer be up to the task.
None, however, said they or their constituents were willing at the moment to put money on the table for a downtown facility.
State Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, a former season ticket holder who has an autographed Kings basketball in his office, said he has been meeting with other leaders and believes the region needs a place "for big events regardless of whether the Kings remain in Sacramento."
"I would not consider a tax, but I'd consider other options," Gaines said.
Folsom Mayor Andy Morin went a step further, saying he believes downtown is a logical spot for a facility, and suggested the arena could be financed in part from fees on people who use the facility, regardless of where they live.
Elk Grove Mayor Steve Detrick said he'd be willing to sit on a regional group to discuss a downtown arena. He has qualms about public financing, though.
"I'd look at what the other options are, but if the voters feel it's worthwhile, so be it."
The downtown business trio, Ault, Hammond and Mahood, said they do not have a financing plan. Instead, they said they are awaiting an arena report, due in May, from Taylor and his partner, ICON Venue Group of Denver. Taylor and ICON were chosen by the Sacramento City Council last month to conduct a 90-day study of what a downtown facility would cost and to suggest ways of financing it.
A spokesman for the Taylor group, Adam Mendelsohn, said Thursday that the group's completion date is up in the air now that the Kings are in discussions with Anaheim.
Kings officials have shared some documents with Taylor, but have declined to provide key financial statements, and have not agreed to meet with Taylor.
If the Kings leave, the Taylor group will shift gears and study how to finance an arena that doesn't include the Kings as tenant and financial partner, Mendelsohn said.