April 14, 2011KINGS PAGE KINGS VIDEO
NEW YORK (AP) -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson watched part of the Kings' season finale, then flew overnight across the country to meet with NBA owners.
His goal: Make sure that wasn't the last NBA game in California's state capital.
"Some things are worth fighting for and this is something that is worth fighting for here today," Johnson said Thursday.
Johnson announced via his Twitter account on Tuesday that there is "...news Today... that billionaire Ron Burkle is very interested in buying the kings and keeping them in sacramento!"
Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof are considering a move to Anaheim and must file a relocation application with the league by Monday. The league's owners are meeting in New York the next two days, and Johnson was making a presentation in front of them Thursday afternoon.
Johnson said he will stress the viability of the Sacramento market to the owners and remind them of the Kings' success in the city over the last 26 years. A former NBA All-Star, Johnson compared his adrenaline when he got dressed Thursday to that of a postseason game.
"This is a playoff game for us in Sacramento and we're competing against Anaheim, and I hope at the end of the day we can build a stronger and better case and why it makes sense to remain in Sacramento," Johnson said.
To do so, Johnson planned to reveal to the owners' finance committee details of a "significant amount of dollars" that he said business leaders raised in the last few weeks and would reiterate the city's commitment to building a new entertainment complex to replace the Power Balance Pavilion, whether the Kings remained to play in it or not.
"So for anybody that has concern, even in a down market, a down economy, that we as a community can't step up to a higher level in the 2011-12 season, they would be mistaken and we have to demonstrate that," Johnson said.
Johnson said the Kings sold out in 19 of their 26 seasons in Sacramento, adding that "I don't believe the grass is greener in Anaheim than it is in Sacramento."
"Fans mean something. Fans are the texture and the heart and soul of the NBA," Johnson said. "That's No. 1. No. 2, we are a top-20 TV market, so I want to remind and maybe dispel some of the concerns that people have with the Sacramento market. It is a viable market."
But the former Arco Arena is outdated, so the Maloof brothers have begun exploring the move to Southern California. The Honda Center, which hosted the NCAA tournament's West Regional finals, has amenities that Sacramento's building lacks.
The arena situation in Sacramento has long been a concern in the NBA, and Commissioner David Stern has expressed less optimism seemingly each time he's been asked over the last few years. Yet it's the league's owners who will determine if the Maloofs can move, and a majority of them would have to approve the application.
They could also seek to establish a severe relocation fee penalty that could make the Maloofs reconsider.
"We have the chance to build a case for why it makes sense to stay in Sacramento. If the Maloofs are willing to do it, we'd like to have them there. We'd like to let the NBA owners know that we're committed to remaining a good basketball community," Johnson said. "I think we have a very compelling case to share with the owners today here in New York."