Thursday, January 24, 2013

Still Poorer Sacramento Gives Up All Semblance of Dignity

The sale of the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen group is a done deal. Hansen has to pay $30 million to the Maloof group on February 1, sort of a deposit to insure everyone's good behavior.  It now appears that the Maloofs' flirtation with Virginia Beach may have been a strategy to get the Hansen group to up its offer.  But is Sacramento accepting its fate with grace and dignity?  Noooo.

First, the Mayor, who was once a point guard for the Phoenix Suns and thinks that Sacramento has "world class" city potential, has embarked on a quixotic quest to raise the money to meet the Hansen group' offer.  But it ain't gonna happen.  First, the Hansen offer is very good.  It bails out the Maloofs, and gives them a handsome nest egg for their next failed venture.  It also (and here's where the NBA comes in) moves the team to a better market and insures that Seattle doesn't lose any money on its contribution to the arena.

You see, the residents of Seattle aren't any happier than Californians at the thought of subsidizing a bunch of really, really rich guys and their toys.  So they passed Initiative 91, which prohibits city investment in any arena that doesn't guarantee a profit for the city.  So the Hansen group has agreed to insure that the surcharge revenue that will pay off the $200 million in bonds will be sufficient.  If it isn't, the Hansen group will make up the difference.

In Sacramento there are two problems with arena construction.  The first is that we'd have to raise at least $250 million, and doing that is questionable.  The original proposal was to sell off our parking revenue, but it turned out that we might only raise $160-180 million from that. Then it was discovered that selling off parking revenue was a really bad idea, in that the people to whom it was sold could have their way with parking fees.  The second is that our City Manager is already whining about Sacramento's debt, both from bonds and retiree health care.  It's not going to go over well when the City Council contemplates ending retiree medical benefits and takes on another $250 million for an arena.

We have learned that David Stern is not a decent sort.  He, having apparently urged the sale to the Hansen group, hasn't had the decency to tell Mayor Johnson that it's a done deal, over, finished.  And so Sacramento continues its humiliation by a score of cuts--the Mayor's pathetic maneuvers, Senator Darrell Steinberg's letter demanding to know how much the state is paying Microsoft (Steve Ballmer is a member of the Hansen group), and who knows what next.

We're moving back to the Bay Area, but I still hate to see the community where I spent my youth give up every shred of dignity to the NBA.

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