Sacramento makes new case for keeping Kings

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Sacramento makes new case for keeping Kings

April 19, 2011
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SACRAMENTO (AP) Business and political leaders in Sacramento have another chance to persuade the NBA that the Kings should stay in town, and they'll put a full-court press on league officials this week.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star, said Tuesday that the city had feared the Kings' move to Anaheim might be a done deal. But he said at least some of the NBA owners at last week's league meetings appeared impressed when the city presented 7 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from local businesses and other backers.

On Tuesday, the tribe that operates Thunder Valley Casino northeast of Sacramento agreed to commit an additional 1 million to back the Kings in Sacramento, bringing the total to at least 8 million. None of that money would go toward the multi-million dollar cost of building a new arena, the repeated sticking point in years of efforts to keep the team happy in Sacramento.

"The fact that we're here and we bought two more weeks, that is a big, big deal," Johnson said at a City Hall news conference, his first since returning from the meetings in New York City. "We get a chance to put our best foot forward."

RELATED: Johnson takes plea to NBA
Commissioner David Stern said last week that the league wanted to "do a little bit more fact-finding" and the NBA granted the Kings' owners another extension until May 2 to file paperwork requesting a relocation. The original deadline passed April 18.

The NBA will send two representatives to Sacramento on Thursday, including relocation committee chairman Clay Bennett, chairman of the ownership group for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The franchise was the Seattle SuperSonics until 2008, when Bennett relocated the team amid calls for a new arena.

Besides giving the Maloof family, which owns a controlling interest in the Kings, more time to formally request league approval for a move, the extension also gives Sacramento more time to make its case to keep the Kings and show how it could build a new arena the team wants.

Local backers want both the Kings and the Maloofs to stay in Sacramento, Johnson said. Failing that, they'd like to keep the team with new owners, or attract a different NBA franchise. The emergence of supermarket tycoon Ron Burkle as an interested buyer for the team created a buzz last week, but Johnson said he may not be a factor in the discussion if the city can make the case that Sacramento is a viable market for the Maloofs and the Kings. The Maloofs have insisted they won't sell the team.

To make their case to the NBA, Johnson said, local backers will stress the strength of the fan base, the fact that Sacramento is in a top 20 media market with no other pro sports team, and the new surge of support from businesses.

RELATED: Kings' application extended
While a full financial and feasibility analysis of a sports and entertainment complex in Sacramento won't be complete by May 2, Johnson said he hopes to present some preliminary data on alternatives and revenue streams to the NBA by that date.

Johnson kept beating the drum for the local effort Tuesday. His visit to the tribal council of the United Auburn Indian Community won a commitment of 1 million, said Doug Elmets, spokesman for the tribe and Thunder Valley. The tribe, he said, "sees value not only in keeping the Kings in Sacramento, but in being part of the business community commitment that Kevin Johnson is seeking." The tribe already pays for a luxury box at Power Balance Pavilion, and expects the 1 million would largely go for advertising and sponsorships, Elmets said.

The mayor also was working out the details for a meeting Wednesday with political leaders around the Sacramento area to present a broad regional appeal to the NBA.

The mayor declined to identify what businesses were involved in the 7 million in new commitments of support, but said he hopes to disclose them after they've been discussed with the league.

Johnson said he didn't know much about an effort to collect signatures in Anaheim to force a public vote on 75 million in financing for a Kings deal, not expected until June 2012. "I'd be dishonest if I didn't say I was glad that was going on" because it may buy Sacramento more time, he said.

Rob Stutzman, a Sacramento political consultant who is organizing the signature drive, said the effort is in its final stages and could be wrapped up by the end of the week. The signature drive has been backed by many small contributors, he said, and has not worked with the Burkle group. Among the backers and organizers of the Committee to Save the Kings are former city councilman Robbie Waters, real estate investor Ethan Conrad and steel company executive Steve Ayers.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

BOX SCORE

Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

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