David Stern gives Sacramento a last chance, but believes Anaheim can support NBA team
While Commissioner David Stern said Friday he’s concluded Southern California “can support” a third NBA team that would play at Anaheim’s Honda Center, he wants to give Sacramento an extended opportunity to try to keep its team.
Stern said the league has opted to extend its relocation application deadline for Kings’ owners Joe and Gavin Maloof from Monday until May 2.
The delay complicates a Kings’ arrival in Anaheim by next season, since the Board of Governors has 120 days to approve a relocation application.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson informed the NBA Board of Governors he’s mobilized as much as $9 million in new sponsorships and season-ticket money for next season, Stern said, while also introducing Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle as a potential investor to back a proposed new downtown arena.
“The mayor’s vision ... we don’t know if it’s real or pie-in-the-sky but we’ll knock ourselves out finding over the next few weeks,” Stern said. “... This is very building-focused.”
The commissioner and his relocation committee, headed by Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, also will press the Maloofs and Honda Center officials to specify their plans for increased television revenue in Anaheim, along with arena improvements for which the city of Anaheim last month authorized $25 million out a total $75-million bond package.
Honda Center operator Henry Samueli declined comment Friday. Stern said the relocation committee is seeking specifics about how the $25 million in bond money will be spent to upgrade Honda Center and “enhance the fan experience at the building.”
The commissioner said the delay does not “at all” mean that the Kings will be “forced to stay in Sacramento” next season, even as the league proceeds toward the significant distraction of a likely summer labor crisis.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: NBA Commissioner David Stern reacts during a press conference following the NBA Board of Governors meeting Friday, April 15, 2011 in New York. Credit: Bebeto Matthews / AP