Home court prevails this time
The Kings are staying in Sacramento. Can we say that again? The Kings are staying in Sacramento. In what would have been considered a major...
Sacramento Bee columnist
DALLAS — The Kings are staying in Sacramento. Can we say that again? The Kings are staying in Sacramento.
In what would have been considered a major upset only four months ago, the Board of Governors looked hard at Seattle but did a double-take when evaluating Sacramento. Come again? They remembered almost three decades of good times — of sellout streaks and international appeal and impassioned crowds even when the team was terrible. They listened to members of the relocation committee and, yes, to their stubborn and respected and retiring commissioner. And ultimately, they envisioned a revived franchise with impressive new owners, a state-of-the-art arena, and an invigorated fan base.
It's true. It happened. Lightning struck, thunder rolled in, and tornado warnings were issued throughout the city known as Big D. But all that happened later in the evening. Earlier in the afternoon, while rain pelted the hotel where the league's owners convened to determine the Kings' future, the Sacramento entourage pitched a near-perfect storm of a presentation.
Mayor Kevin Johnson spoke about jobs and economic development and the community's commitment to his hometown's only major professional sports franchise. Vivek Ranadive put 100 percent of the counter-offer into escrow, and in another interesting turn of events, announced that one of the nation's largest swimwear manufacturers had joined his potential ownership group. Prominent local developer Mark Friedman, who later emotionally likened the Kings' journey to the book "The Little Engine That Could," convincingly addressed the issues involved with demolishing the Downtown Plaza and constructing a sports and entertainment complex by 2016.
"This is just an incredible day for Sacramento," added Mike Tavares, one of the dozen Kings fans who flew here and hung out in the hotel lobby while awaiting the outcome. "Nobody thought we could do it. With the community coming together, the politicians and the business leaders, and KJ pulling everybody in, it's a Hollywood story."
This was most significant: George Maloof also referred to the process as "fair" and said legal action was a non-starter.
Later, when asked why he never went public about a desire to sell to a local group, he said, "That's not the way I do business."
Finally there seems to be a graceful exit strategy. Get the deal done. Compromise and figure out something that works.
So who needs a Hollywood ending? A few more handshakes would be just fine.