Anaheim's mayor says he's confident the Sacramento Kings will move to his city.
But Mayor Tom Tait, wary of anti-tax sentiments, is also trying to curb speculation that city money will be used to make it happen.
"We are continuing to move closer to bringing a professional basketball team to Anaheim," he told his City Council on Tuesday. It was the city's first comment on the Kings' possible move.
In a public notice last week, Anaheim said it might issue bonds to upgrade the city-owned Honda Center. It's widely believed the upgrades would pay for spacious, NBA-caliber locker rooms and other amenities.
The matter is taking on some urgency. A council vote on the bonds was set for mid-April days before the deadline facing the Kings for deciding whether to move.
But the vote was just moved up to next Tuesday.
The bond issue has sparked some unrest in Anaheim, where anti-tax fervor runs deep and the city's budget deficit is $10 million.
The Orange County Register this week speculated in a headline that city money would be spent on the project. A conservative activist, William Denis Fitzgerald, complained to the council Tuesday that the city wanted to give "millions of our tax money to a convicted felon."
Henry Samueli, whose firm manages the arena, pleaded guilty to charges related to a stock options scheme in 2008. The charges and plea were later dismissed.
But Tait said city money isn't involved in the arena upgrade. The bonds would be repaid with private dollars.
"City taxpayers and the city's general fund will not be put at risk," he said.
Similarly, the city issued the bonds to build the arena in 1993, but Samueli is responsible for repayment.
The city hasn't disclosed the size of the new offering, but it's surely in the millions. The Kings and the arena have declined to comment.
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