Sacramento officials prepare to study Downtown Plaza as arena site

02/01/2013 12:00 AM

02/01/2013 8:27 PM

In an indication of how seriously Sacramento City Hall is taking the prospect of an arena at Downtown Plaza, City Manager John Shirey's office is preparing to analyze the site if it becomes the city's chosen location for a new sports facility.

That analysis could examine the different locations within Downtown Plaza where an arena could fit, an arena's impact on the site's utilities and the nearby transportation infrastructure. Shirey also announced this week that he was rehiring arena consultant Dan Barrett to assist the city in the likely event that an arena plan is developed in the coming weeks.

JMA Ventures, the firm that bought the mall last year, has conducted its own feasibility study of placing an arena at the mall.

Billionaire Ron Burkle – who along with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov is discussing a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings – has advocated to NBA Commissioner David Stern for building an arena at Downtown Plaza. While the mall site has received increased attention in recent days, city officials, including Mayor Kevin Johnson, stress that they have not abandoned the railyard as a potential arena location.

"While things are fluid at this point, we want to be ready for any eventuality," Shirey told the City Council on Tuesday.

Johnson is seeking to package an arena plan with a wealthy investment team that would buy the Kings in an attempt to block the franchise's sale to a group that plans to move it to Seattle in time for the 2013-14 season.

Meanwhile, the bankruptcy trustee handling the sale of 7 percent of the Sacramento Kings is negotiating with the Maloof family to gain access to crucial documents regarding the Maloofs' pending deal with the Seattle group.

Donald Fitzgerald, attorney for trustee David Flemmer, said in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Thursday that he hopes to gain access to the details of the Seattle sale under a confidentiality agreement. If the two sides can't work out their differences, Fitzgerald said Flemmer could seek a court order compelling the Maloofs to turn over their records.

Developer Bob Cook's 7 percent stake in the team has become a potential stumbling block for the Maloofs as they try to complete the sale. Fitzgerald and Flemmer are investigating whether limited partners such as Cook have the "right of first opportunity" or "first right of refusal" to match the Seattle group's offer. They say they need the Seattle documents to pursue their claim.

If they're successful, one of the existing limited partners – or someone buying the Cook share out of bankruptcy – could block the Maloofs' sale. The Maloofs are selling the 65 percent they control.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein approved Flemmer's request to hire a San Francisco lawyer named Christopher Sullivan as "special litigation counsel" in anticipation of a possible lawsuit over the Seattle deal.

The Maloofs and Chris Hansen, leader of the Seattle group, consider the trustee's objections "a non-issue," according to a source familiar with the deal.

The deal between Hansen and the Maloofs was supposed to include a $30 million down payment due by today. Representatives for both Hansen and the Maloofs declined to comment Thursday on whether that money had been transferred.

Martin Zohn, a lawyer representing the NBA, declined to comment when asked by a reporter if the league agrees with Flemmer's and Fitzgerald's position. He told the judge that the NBA's board of governors is likely to rule on the Seattle purchase at its regular meeting in New York April 19.

The Cook share is supposed to be auctioned off April 9. The judge denied a request by one of Cook's creditors to delay the auction by a month.

In court, Fitzgerald revealed that the Kings issued a "capital call" to all investors last June. Cook's share would come to around $700,000 – implying that the team was seeking $10 million from all owners, including the Maloofs.


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