Renée C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

Mayor Kevin Johnson gestures during a news conference last week as he announced a push by local investors to buy the Kings. Bee reporters and editors had to sift facts from rumors and speculation before reporting on developments.

City Council to vote on symbolic resolution backing Kings in Sacramento

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 - 3:10 pm

The Sacramento City Council will vote next week on a symbolic resolution voicing its support of keeping the Kings in town and for building a new downtown arena.

That vote will follow a weekend trip to Houston by Mayor Kevin Johnson, who will lobby the NBA's team owners at the league's All-Star weekend to keep pro basketball in Sacramento.

The mayor said Tuesday that he was "very close" to revealing the foundation of his pitch – a team of deep-pocketed investors to buy the team and a plan to finance a new arena.

Johnson is attempting to block a deal the Kings owners have to sell the franchise to a group in Seattle that would move the team to the Pacific Northwest in time for the 2013-14 season. Johnson said he is working against a March 1 deadline to secure those investors and an arena plan. That date is the deadline for a team to file for relocation, which the Kings did last week.

The mayor is expected to make his pitch to the league's board of governors – made up of team owners – in New York in mid-April. However, he raised the possibility Tuesday of presenting his case before that April meeting to a league subcommittee that examines sale agreements and relocation requests.

It is unclear whether Johnson would make that pitch to those league subcommittees in person, or when and where that presentation would be made.

When a local bid is revealed, City Manager John Shirey said that he has assembled a team of consultants prepared to analyze that proposal, including any plan to finance an arena.

That team includes Walker Parking, which would analyze the worth of the city's parking assets. City officials planned last year to leverage up to $255 million out of downtown parking operations and contribute that amount to an arena financing plan.

"I want to assure the council and public that our city team is coming together and we are ready to deal with any group that will come forward (to buy the Kings)," Shirey told the City Council.

Meanwhile, the mayor said he would recruit local businesses to commit corporate sponsorship to a new arena and new ownership. He has not set a dollar goal yet, but in 2011 he helped raise $10 million to help persuade the NBA to block a Kings move to Anaheim.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Ryan Lillis



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