Think Big Sacramento task force: City is a better NBA market than Seattle

03/06/2013 12:00 AM

03/05/2013 11:27 PM

The task force trying to keep the Sacramento Kings in town revved up its publicity machine Tuesday, unveiling a report arguing that Sacramento is a better NBA market than Seattle.

Mayor Kevin Johnson's Think Big Sacramento task force rolled out a collection of statistics making the case that Sacramento offers the team a better TV and radio market with broader fan support.

"Sacramento has an incredible argument for the strengths we bring to the table," said task force head Kunal Merchant in a presentation to a group of Sacramento construction executives.

Seattle is bigger and has a stronger corporate base. But Seattle would have to split that support among four teams, including the relocated Kings. Sacramento gives the NBA a monopoly.

By that reckoning, Sacramento is actually a stronger broadcast market, with more TV households per team, and a stronger corporate base, Merchant said.

"That 100 percent market share is a huge advantage," he said.

The report was released four days after investors Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle made a bid for the Kings on Sacramento's behalf.

It's intended to counter the offer the Maloof family, which owns the Kings, accepted from investors in Seattle.

Sacramento City Manager John Shirey said Tuesday night that he intends to bring a financing term sheet for a new downtown sports arena to the City Council for a vote at the council's March 26 meeting.

Shirey had previously said he wanted that council vote to take place April 2, but said Tuesday night that "was cutting it close" for the NBA's board of governors meeting just more than two weeks later.

The league will decide during that April 18 and 19 session whether to approve the Kings' sale to a group in Seattle seeking to move the franchise to the Pacific Northwest.

The city manager said he expects negotiations to begin next week with billionaire Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mastrov over the arena financing plan.

He said he and other top city officials, along with a team of consultants, has spent the past two days preparing for those talks.

In the meantime, Johnson's task force will continue to drive home the point publicly that Sacramento deserves to keep the Kings.

Merchant said the publicity campaign is designed to persuade NBA owners as well as the Sacramento City Council, which will have to vote in early April on a public subsidy for the proposed new downtown arena.

Merchant and mayoral adviser Chris Lehane said Sacramento drew more fans than Seattle in 20 of the 23 years that both cities were in the NBA. Seattle lost its SuperSonics to Oklahoma in 2008.

Johnson said last week that corporations have pledged $50 million in Kings sponsorships over the first five years at a new arena. Merchant declined to identify the companies, saying the list will be revealed "at the right time."

Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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