A group of 25 Sacramento business people will send a letter to the NBA today asking it to consider new ownership for the Sacramento Kings.
They're firing off their letter on the same day that the Maloofs, who own the Kings, plan to appear before the league's board of governors to argue that the NBA's deal with the city to build a new arena needs more negotiating.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, who helped broker the tentative deal with the city, is also expected to brief the league owners today on the status of the deal.
A spokesman for the Sacramento business group, Gregory Hayes, a member of Mayor Kevin Johnson's Think Big Sacramento organization, said it will hold a news conference this morning near the site of the proposed arena in the downtown railyard.
Hayes said his group includes developers, restaurant owners and downtown business owners. He declined to offer further details, other than saying in a press statement that the group will express its position on the future ownership of the team.
But a source who declined to speak publicly before the news conference said the group intends to issue a letter saying it appreciates what the Maloof family has done with the team but that, to make an arena deal happen, the group believes it is best to have new owners with a long-term commitment to Sacramento.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league hasn't seen the letter and can't comment on it.
A spokesman for the Kings, Eric Rose, declined to comment directly about the group but said the Kings owners are committed to making a deal in Sacramento and do not intend to sell.
"The Kings' position has not changed," Rose said. "They desire to stay in Sacramento and are working diligently toward that end. And the Kings are not for sale."
NBA officials have said the league and team owners do not have the authority to force ownership change for a team.
Mayor Johnson could not be reached Wednesday evening, but a spokesman told The Bee earlier that he still hopes the NBA and Maloofs will come to an understanding that will propel the arena effort forward.
"The city has done what it has been asked to do" in coming up with a financing plan, Johnson chief of staff Kunal Merchant said.
The main disagreement involves who pays arena pre-development costs. The Kings owners agreed in principle to put $73 million into the $391 million arena, but say none of that money should go to pre-development work. Kings officials say there are a number of other unresolved issues as well.
However, a nonbinding term sheet, drawn up after negotiations involving the team, city, NBA and arena operator AEG, calls for the Kings and AEG each to put in $3.26 million for pre-development work, and for the city to match that with $6.5 million.
NBA Commissioner Stern put up $200,000 of the league's money two weeks ago to fund the initial pre-development work after the Kings refused. The city and AEG have not contributed yet, pending the outcome of the NBA meetings.
The NBA's $200,000, for initial consultant contracts for site planning work, is expected to last through next week. If the Kings decline to chip in, city officials said they would stop planning work on the arena.
NBA owners will continue meeting on a variety of league topics Friday. Stern will hold a press briefing afterward.
The city will hold a town hall meeting tonight from 5:30 to 8 on the first floor of new City Hall to discuss how to fit the arena, a transit center and other development on the city-owned railyard site near Fifth and H streets.
City officials will hold a meeting next week with architects and developers to begin formulating arena designs.