National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern on Thursday once again called Sacramento a "great" NBA city, but said it still needs a new arena if it wants to keep the Kings long term.
"I would say, through a very difficult period time, the fans and businesses of Sacramento have responded in an extraordinary way," Stern said at his annual pre-season press conference in New York. "It just goes to my view that Sacramento is a great NBA city and a great potential NBA city and I would urge them to continue to support the team and hope their efforts don't go unrewarded."
An effort earlier this year to finance a $390 million downtown arena imploded when the Maloof family, owners of the team, backed out of the deal.
Stern, who had committed NBA funds to that deal, has said the Maloofs made a mistake by refusing the deal, which was brokered by the city, NBA and private development partners.
"Over time, it is agreed that for the Kings to stay in Sacramento, we need a new arena," Stern said. "But right now, we're happy to have the Kings in Sacramento with the new (renamed) Sleep Train Arena."
The team owners, who previously sought to move the team to Anaheim, have declined to discuss the team's future recently, other than saying they are working on putting a better team on the floor this season. League play begins next week.
The commissioner also said league owners will be looking into whether the league should consider adding new teams, beyond the existing 30.
"I wouldn't preclude it," Stern said of expansion possibility.
If so, it could mean Sacramento and Seattle may not ultimately find themselves competing for the Kings. Seattle is making a push to build an arena and officials there have mentioned the Kings as a potential tenant. The Seattle arena group, however, has said it wants to buy a team, and the Kings' owners continue to insist they are not interested in selling the team.
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