Marcos Breton: Maloofs are roadbock to a new arena

04/04/2012 12:00 AM

04/18/2013 7:45 PM

I don't see how its going to work with these guys.

Sacramento is going to be hard-pressed to build a downtown arena to house the Kings as long as the Maloof brothers are the Kings owners.

I wish this wasn't so, but the Maloofs have always found a reason not to pay up when it was their turn. They've always thrown up roadblocks when everyone else was ready to take on the monumental task of building an arena here.

It's always been them. Ten years ago, when you would ask them what they wanted in an arena, they would say "whatever the city wants." They wouldn't even send representatives to early arena meetings where former Mayor Heather Fargo would get crushed for suggesting local restaurants help out.

Remember when the Maloofs stormed out of a City Council meeting during one arena discussion?

Or when, at the big kickoff to a 2006 initiatives campaign to build an arena in the downtown railyard, they shocked everyone by going off script and raising doubts about the project?

They walked away from the process and then made a hamburger commercial touting their net worth at $1 billion. The sales tax measure to build them a free arena went down in flames by an 80 percent to 20 percent vote.

Now this. They are refusing to pay $3.2 million in pre-development costs – chump change for most NBA owners – when Sacramento is paying a much larger share. AEG, the Los Angeles-based arena operators, is ready to pay as well. The Maloofs contend they shouldn't pay for pre-development costs when they won't have an ownership stake in the arena. They'll just be renters.

Contrast this with Mayor Kevin Johnson being bullish on an arena, along with a majority of the City Council and City Manager John Shirey. AEG President Tim Leiweke couldn't have been more enthusiastic about Sacramento on a recent visit. NBA Commissioner David Stern is up for an arena in Sacramento, too, so much so that he is putting up $200,000 in pre-development costs that the Maloofs refuse to pay.

You know what? To me, that says Stern agrees with Sacramento and not the Maloofs.

If the NBA didn't think it was reasonable to pay pre-development costs on an arena, the NBA wouldn't be paying it.

What we have here is a major communication problem between the Kings owners and the NBA.

The Maloofs are saying tenants in a building should not have to pay money for environmental review and site planning.

OK, but these tenants are also getting 50 percent of the naming rights in the new arena. Oh, and by the way, AEG is going to secure a naming rights deal – not the Maloofs.

When he was in town recently, Leiweke couldn't resist taking a poke at the Maloofs, saying he'd be able to find a lucrative naming rights deal in contrast with the Kings' current deal with a wristband company now in bankruptcy protection.

How curious that this whole story first broke in the Los Angeles Times, the market where the Maloofs wanted to move the Kings last year but were blocked by the NBA.

Am I accusing the Maloofs of leaking this story?

Heavens to Betsy, no! It's just very curious, wouldn't you say?

Now the Maloofs' Los Angeles-based lawyer is firing off letters raising doubts that Sacramento can complete an arena on time.

Think about that for a minute: The Maloofs don't want to pay money while the clock is ticking on critical deadlines to do environmental review and site planning. Delays in this process will mean the arena won't open in 2015 as everyone wants.

So if there are delays, who is causing them? The Maloofs.

They obviously don't want to be here.

If they did, they would have reached out to Shirey and his staff quietly – instead of calling me and every other media person in town.

If they really wanted to be here, they wouldn't be throwing up roadblocks at the same time the Kings are supposed to be selling season tickets for next year.

You're behaving this way and want people to buy your product?

Lets face it, this kind of behavior fits a pattern of failure and dysfunction. The Maloofs lost control of their Las Vegas casino, they sold their liquor distributorship, the Kings are on losing season No. 6 in a row, they owe millions of dollars to Sacramento and the NBA.

The Maloofs' claims of being tenants flies in the face of a partnership where all the parties are willing to pull in the same direction – except for these guys.

Sacramento deserves much better.

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