Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was extremely confident. Vivek Ranadive was extremely confident. Darrell Steinberg was extremely confident. Mark Mastrov acted like he wasn't part of the dance even though he was. As I said on Twitter at one point, doesn't anybody in this group have an ego?
Well the answer is of course this group has an ego. Just not at presser's when joy and hope was what they went there to do. They felt like they knocked it out of the park, and the Seattle guys were more subdued.
Anything short of an absolute disaster (very unlikely even with the level of Maloofery in this deal) was unlikely to lead to anything of real note. But, there are some tidbits to digest.
Now, I won't lie and pretend I know everything here. There is so much out there going on right now that quite literally new news could come out and I wouldn't know it because I don't have the time to keep an eagle eye on every single detail. So I'll pass along the pertinent stuff that is rather important.
First, here is PBT (Kurt Helin), SI (Ben Golliver) and ESPN's (Brian Windhorst) take on the proceedings. Then of course you have Ken Berger of CBS Sports. (This focuses on the Seattle end.) And David Aldridge. (There are press conferences of everyone on Aldridge's piece.) Here are press conferences from Chris Hansen and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine via the Seattle Times. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop also has some thoughts. Chris Daniels of King5 News in Seattle also has a piece up.
Here is the co Tony Bizjak, Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis piece as we've been accustomed to seeing on the front page of the Bee. (There is a bit of a mention about Dave Lucchetti using his rights of first refusal to match the 7% bankruptcy of Bob Cook's shares.) Like wise Rob McAllister of CBS13 sounds off with some select quotes of Stern past and present.
Then you have the Cowbell Kingdom coverage of this in New York. James Ham's first piece of the day, a video interview with Carmichael Dave, a piece regarding the 7% purchase by Dave Lucchetti and some thoughts about the arena twists.
And then, you have the head honcho of covering this story, Aaron Bruski. We'll get to that in a bit. (Also, here is his archive if you have about 12 hours to kill. Okay I'm kidding. But it may feel that way after you get done with all the twists and turns of this saga.)
After the jump I'll try to digest as much of this as possible.
This goes without saying, but what a mess. A mess the Maloofs created, a mess the Maloofs are looking to threaten and piss off everything that is dear to the NBA. David Stern is clearly not happy, and clearly neither are the owners.
There are so many problems on this front that I don't really know where to begin. Seattle has a RSN that the NBA wants, Sacramento has a public subsidy and fighting hard to keep what it currently has, and both of these are major dilemma's for the NBA. Addtionally, after today's comments of all what went down, this could come down to the timeline of both arena's.
And cue Mr Bruski.
In what may be a surprise development to some given Seattle’s head start on the arena building process, sources say that in Wednesday’s meeting and in the coming weeks, Chris Hansen’s group will reveal that they have “very little chance” of opening an arena before the 2017-18 season due to expected challenges under environmental law.
If this is the case, and I can't say I'm surprised at all for a variety of reasons that only are in part because I have lived there, that's bad news for Seattle. That's FOUR seasons in Key Arena. Which is considered just as terrible as Sleep Train Arena at the moment as David Stern labeled both building "substandard" in his presser following a long and draining day.
Remember how we got here. Because none of this happens if the Maloofs just simply say: Hit this number and we sell. At that point, if the investors say no Sacramento is screwed. Because we are talking about the Maloof family, and insane amounts of seriously ridiculous behavior, we are talking about other things like arena timelines.
Let's dial this back to March 4th for a minute.
Should the league favor Sacramento, sources say the work the city has done to fight for its team and the narrative it will give the league to sell to future cities in arena negotiations will have played a critical role in the NBA’s decision-making process.
The NBA was happy with the deal it negotiated on behalf of the Maloofs in 2012. There is no way in the world can't be ecstatic about the arena being built in Downtown Plaza now. The political talking points are even more significant and allow the Railyards to be maximized to an even further benefit. (Remember the DTP had not been sold by Westfield when the deal was being consumated.)
Coming back to today:
Some interesting things about all of this. The owners really had not in the words of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn "exposed" to the deal as it stood. It stands to reason, that the owners do not realize that in a matter of 3 months Sacramento and prospective owners put together a term sheet with a site that is all but ready to go o a number of fronts, a public subsidy that the city had on standby waiting for when this moment inevitably came, and a swell of support in the city that the Kings have called home for 28 years.
Yeah, it sounds too good to be true. It's not. From Mr Bruski:
Sources with knowledge of the NBA’s view have identified two main differences that define each city’s path to an arena.
The first is a difference in environmental laws that provides Sacramento with an ‘expedited process’ to address any environmental challenges made against their arena deal once an environmental review is complete.
California recently enacted law AB900 at the urging of AEG (which has plans for a football arena in downtown Los Angeles near Staples Center). That law limits environmental challenges to a 175-day time-frame following the approval of an environmental review. Because any challenge must be heard in an appellate court, with statutory directives designed to expedite a challenge, Sacramento has a key legal advantage in the race to build an arena. Co-Author of the law and member of Sacramento’s arena task force Darrell Steinberg is expected to attend today’s meetings with the joint committees to answer any questions about how the law works.
This is the key piece of news from Mr Bruski:
Should the NBA’s BOG approve the sale of the Kings to Sacramento buyers, an environmental review lasting for one year would result in a construction start date of no later than November 2014 when considering the maximum 175 day review for any environmental challenges.
Because of the certainty the expedited review process provides, Sacramento can present a firm timeline to the league whereas Seattle’s environment laws have no time limit for challenges to be heard and any legal proceedings go through superior (lower) courtrooms. The expedited process in California takes place in appellate courts, and also gives those courts additional tools to further expedite an arena deal.
BOOM! (To quote a person or two.)
The second difference is the amount of resistance the Seattle arena deal is currently facing and will continue to face until all environmental challenges are heard. There are already challenges under Washington environmental laws that will take anywhere from one year or more to resolve according to Peter Goldman, who is currently suing the city on behalf of the local Longshoreman’s union over traffic concerns and the lack of a viable alternative site analysis required under state environmental law. The union’s main concern is union jobs at the port, which it wants to see grow as trade along the Pacific rim grows.
The main issue for opponents of the arena deal is where the arena is being placed. Opponents contend that the stadium district that houses the two existing stadia for the Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders is already congested with traffic that interferes with the Post of Seattle. They’re arguing that even with attempts to mitigate additional traffic issues, the development of an “L.A. Live-like facility” on top of the other stadiums is an issue that cannot necessarily be fixed.
Oh, and let's be clear about one other point:
League insiders have bounced around on a lot of issues surrounding the Kings saga, but one of the issues that they are in agreement on is that the city that can build an arena first will have a key advantage in the eyes of the owners deciding the fate of the franchise.
Okay. So let's recap. Other than every single important strong point that has been in favor of Sacramento, the only thing that Seattle really has in it's favor is the development of a Regional Sports Network. Ownership, business climate, and the arena were also supposed to be in their favor. And, if you believe today's developments that's a good thing for Sacramento.
I thought today's pressers were also in stark contrast. While I'm never fond of judging anything by these things, Seattle's presser was more subdued. And there was a jubilance with Kevin Johnson that Ryan Lillis summarized as this:
Observation from covering him 5 years: Mayor KJ shows emotion based on the day's developments. Today, he is as jovial as I've ever seen
— Ryan Lillis (@Ryan_Lillis) April 3, 2013
That means something. I just don't know what. I hope it means something well for Sacramento, and we shall see. By the way, if you have not, read the piece in sequential order by Aaron Bruski if you have not. Since i cut it up into parts, there are a lot of important (and somewhat subtle) details. But after literally cutting up half the article for this, I didn't want to cut up the rest of it.
Take a deep breathe. There were some interesting things that came out of David Stern and Adam Silver's mouth that caught my eye.
One bit was about that the bid was not a problem in Stern's eyes.
There was a mention of two very strong bids with resignation by Stern. I'm not sure if that means anything. (He was wearing a purple tie, too, but really that's kiddie shit. David Stern don't play that.) While David Stern surely says things that are interesting, what he's wearing is not.
On the other hand, Adam Silver mentioned that the deposit was contingent upon purchase (which was not what that deposit had been reported as) and that alone makes the proceedings more interesting on top of the bid news.
David Stern said both buildings that either city would be using while new arena's are being constructed are "sub-standard."
If I were to take a step back and look at this, I would think numerous things and make a few conclusions about today. Chris Hansen probably gave an actually solid proposal, but the enthusiasm and attitude of the Kings presenters caught everyone's eye. Whether that's a right or wrong deal, but Vivek Ranadive is nothing if not ehthusiastic. (Or seemingly so.) Mark Mastrov seemed excited. Ron Burkle isn't known for a lack of negotiating prowess.
I find it odd that Sacramento rolled heavy and hard into the proceedings, came out thrilled, and left it at that. On the other hand you had a lighter group for Seattle and less enthusiasm. Not good or bad, just odd.
If the ownership groups are not going to be compared as a strength or weak point as Seattle fans and media suggest (and it would be ridiculous to do that for a number of reasons), and if the corporate support in Seattle is also not nearly as important a factor as Seattle fans and media have suggested (this is a major problem), this is a big time problem Seattle has. While Seattle has some level of a subsidy involved, it's involving taxes of rental cars and hotels (Seattle has lots of both in case you didn't know), Sacramento's public-private partnership is one the NBA loves in part because of the numerous variables.
What many in Seattle do not understand right now is that Sacramento is not Seattle. We can't afford to be arrogant about real estate value when a prime piece of real estate property sold for 22 million dollars the last season. Especially when Westfield at one point was believe to be asking 250 million as recently as 2004.
A deal about real estate is where Kings and ESC Co is going to make it's money. The ability to build a swanky state of the art (and I'll be major league pissed if it's not that swanky) facility that will draw all kinds of things are just one component to this deal. There is the spin-off effect, and the fact that so many in Sacramento are behind this deal. (To be fair, there certainly are detractors who do not always step forward. As always.) The construction jobs will help the unemployment rate.
Many have underestimated the value of gifting land to Kings/ESC Co (that's Burkle, Jacobs, Mastrov and Ranadive in some combination btw) that the city does not have to sell as part of their contribution. There is also the part where the city will get property taxes at some point (probably when the building or renovations are completed I would assume). out of this.
Whether or not the term sheet ultimately pencils out we shall see. We are not far enough in the process yet. But the fact that since last October Seattle has started an arena process and could still be leap-frogged by Sacramento doesn't say much about their enthusiasm to speed things up to get the NBA to return.
I want to believe the Kings are in the drivers seat as Aaron Bruski has so repeatedly maintained. And, of course for our sake, I hope he's right. Like always though, we shall see, and if there is one thing I've learned being a Kings fan, it's that anything that can go wrong will absolutely go wrong.
Never, ever, count your chickens until your hatched. Thankfully I don't think KJ and Kings/ESC Co are doing that right now which is nice. They are smart to know they are in a dog fight. JMA, Burkle and like Ranadive have been the keys (which is funny since you're leaving important players Mark Mastrov and the Jacobs brothers out of that) as their various levels of knowledge and gravitas help Sacramento a great deal.
We are essentially comparing a strong team of leaders who simply get things done to a few drive individuals with a desire to bring the NBA back to their hometown.
If you're the NBA, and you didn't know the names or the sticker shock associated with that, you probably choose door #1. If the NBA does indeed do that, it will be a landmark decision in turning Seattle down. If the NBA leaves Sacramento, it will be leaving an attractive ownership group and city willing to meet it's demands.
Which is why, despite whatever protests are made by David Stern right now, expansion is all that makes sense. On the other hand, what I love about KJ and that group is they are acting like there will be no expansion team to Seattle. They are acting like there is literally one team up for grabs and they can't lose it.
Chris Hansen has to navigate a bunch of landmines including the lawsuits, Clay Bennett and the Maloofs. Sacramento has no such problems right now, and if that's any indication, that could mean we as Kings fans are sitting pretty.
Then again, we could be being played for a fool with the ultimate sucker bet of all time. While on the surface the Seattle group looks rather formidable (and of course is), there are some cracks and not necessarily a great desire to attract a mega wealthy owner like Steve Ballmer. The brilliant owners, in my experience of watching them, are the one's that are capable of extracting revenue in unique and unthought of ways previously. Chris Hansen and his group really aren't reinventing the wheel even if they have a super shiny spiffy wheel to flaunt. (There is something to be said for that.) But if you can come up with a new design to the wheel that simply enhances what you bring to the table well beyond just the spending of money on a franchise, you can become a landmark. The late great Dr Jerry Buss was very wealthy when he passed, but he also is quite arguably the greatest large sports market owner in history. He buitl a brand in a city with no real loyalty that transcends many real barries in Southern California.
Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer may be tremendous owners that bring something to the NBA (and I, FWIW, think they do), but if all they bring is money, that's not nearly as big a deal if both sides bring a pre-requisite amount of money with them, too.
The idea of transcendant owners matter, and I'm willing to bet the BOG thinks so too. Here's hoping that logic is right.