Maloofs signal they're flexible on deadline for Sacramento arena plan

12/16/2011 12:00 AM

12/18/2011 10:52 AM

The March 1 deadline for Sacramento to produce an an arena plan may not be so firm after all.

Sacramento Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said Thursday that his family will "always have flexibility" when working with the NBA and the city to come up with a plan to build a new Kings arena and keep the team in town.

Until now, the Maloofs have been mostly quiet while the city negotiates details of a potential arena finance plan with the NBA. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is scheduled to meet with NBA commissioner David Stern today in New York.

Maloof said the team's owners are encouraged by brisk ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and the progress made so far on crafting a workable financing proposal for a new sports and entertainment facility downtown.

The Maloofs last April proposed relocating to the Honda Center in Anaheim because of Power Balance Pavilion's age and limited revenue streams.

Urged by other owners to persist in Sacramento, the Maloofs agreed to a one-year grace period.

"I'm sure we'll always have flexibility," Joe Maloof told The Bee Thursday afternoon. "The league has always been flexible so I don't know about that (a firm deadline). There are a lot of people working in a positive vein this time, where before, there was a lot of negativity. But everybody is on board. So we're optimistic guys. We want to get it done here in Sacramento."

Sacramento city officials have said they don't expect to have a financial package nailed down by March anyway.

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said recently that the city expects a tentative outline of a plan available by then. The key funding source – privatization of thousands of city-owned parking spaces, designed to bring in tens of millions of dollars – will take several more months to complete, he said.

By March 1, the city expects to show the Kings and the NBA that "we're making good progress and there is a way to get to the finish line," said City Manager John Shirey.

In a 90-minute conversation Thursday in their corporate offices in North Natomas, Joe and Gavin Maloof described themselves as "optimistic" and "very encouraged" by the community's response to the team's presence and what Gavin termed "the wonderful energy around town."

A new facility in the downtown railyard is expected to cost an estimated $406 million. The company that would operate the building – the well-known AEG – is expected to contribute approximately $50 million. The City Council on Tuesday voted to continue exploring the possibility of leasing Sacramento's downtown parking operations to a private operator, in return for roughly $200 million in upfront cash to help build an arena. The amount of funding provided by the NBA and Maloofs remains undetermined.

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