Kings could be staying in Sacramento

The Sacramento City Council approved a public-private deal Tuesday to build a new 18,500-seat arena and retail center downtown, which could keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle.

Former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has scrambled to put together a group to buy the team and get approval for a financial deal that would build a $448 million arena on the site of a shopping mall.

"We want the folks of Seattle to get a team, we wish them well, but we want to keep what's ours," Johnson said after the 7-2 vote to approve the arena. "We're going to New York to talk about the viability of this market and the love affair we've had with our team."

Johnson will present the new arena plan and purchase offer to an NBA committee next week and the following week, the NBA Board of Governors will vote on whether the team can be sold.

Johnson now must convince NBA owners to block the Maloof family from initiating the move to Seattle, a deal made public in January.

"We're in competition to keep the Sacramento Kings from being taken away from us," said city manager John Shirley. "We've known all along that we need to present the NBA a first-rate, quality place for them to play."

The city's share of the new arena, which will be built on the west end of city center on the site of the Downtown Plaza, is $258 million, with most of the money coming from event parking collections and ticket surcharges.

The investment group, meanwhile, will contribute $189 million to the arena construction and would be responsible for all capital improvements. Billionaire Ron Burkle, co-owner of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, headlines the Sacramento investment group, while Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs also agreed to become part of the Sacramento bid.

The arena term sheet, which includes a 35-year non-relocation agreement with two five-year extensions, would keep the Kings in the city until the last quarter of the century.

The Kings have played in Sacramento since 1985, after relocating from Kansas City, and have played in the building formerly known as Arco Arena since the 1988-89 campaign.