City wants to cap costs, split expense

Updated: August 5, 2004, 2:37 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Sacramento city officials want to build a new arena for the Kings -- as long as the arena's built on the city's terms.

The Sacramento Bee reported in Thursday's editions that the city wants to cap arena costs at $350 million and insists that the NBA team takes on half of the burden.

Not surprisingly, the Kings were not thrilled with the proposed arrangement. Reportedly, team owners Joe and Gavin Maloof walked out of a July 22 meeting where the proposal was first unveiled.

"We think it's a mistake to put forth those parameters at the very beginning," said John Thomas, president of Maloof Sports and Entertainment. "As far as we can tell, this approach is without precedent in the city ... and in 28 other agreements in the NBA, we haven't been able to find one that started this way."

Sacramento deputy city manager Richard Ramirez admitted that the city wants to keep the team, but argued that establishing some semblance of cost certainty at the beginning of the process was critical.

"We have to start someplace. It's a guideline," Ramirez said.

The man who drafted the initial city proposal, councilman Steve Cohn, said he was trying to craft a plan that would be accepted by a majority of the city council.

"We still need to push for a 50/50 deal, and if the Maloofs can't do that, they need to explain why not," Cohn said. "If they want to come up with a counterproposal, I'd welcome that."

According to the report, all of the posturing needs to be completed by Oct. 26, when the council must have approved language for an arena ballot to be voted on in March.