April 15, 2012
Kings arena leader: Maloofs 'like North Koreans'
By The Sports Xchange
The leader of the committee formed to build a new sports complex in Sacramento reportedly said late Saturday night that negotiating with the team’s owners is like “dealing with the North Koreans.”
Lehane is the executive director of Think Big, a committee formed by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to help keep the Kings in Sacramento and build a new arena.
Negotiations between the city and the Maloof family, which owns the team, broke down during a series of press conferences Friday at the NBA Board of Governor’s meetings in New York.
“As their bizarre press conference laid bare for all to see, dealing with the Maloofs is like dealing with the North Koreans — except they are less competent,” Lehane said in a statement to USA Today Sports. “In Maloof-world, facts are fiction; truths are half-truths; and promises are broken promises. The City of Sacramento deserves better.”
Earlier Saturday, Kings co-owner George Maloof told USA Today Sports that he wanted to restart arena negotiations, but he wanted Johnson off the talks.
“I don’t think I’d want to negotiate with the mayor,” Maloof told USA TODAY Sports. “Maybe there’s someone else that I’d feel more comfortable with We’re disappointed in comments made by the mayor that we feel were shots to us that were unfair and not truthful.”
Johnson said the Maloofs were untrustworthy after backing out of a handshake agreement. The Maloofs balked at putting up collateral on the building, which was negotiated by the NBA, among a laundry list of other demands.
“Yes, that’s true,” he said of the no-collateral demand, which Maloof claimed was brought up when the sides announced they had an agreement. “Everybody knew that Day 1. I don’t know why they’re surprised about that yesterday. . . . If he’s using that to walk away, that’s not right.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Friday that the team’s arena deal with the city was dead. Stern said the Maloofs had buyer’s remorse and were worried the deal would overburden their debt load. He would not say if the Kings would be in Sacramento beyond 2013.
It was part of a series of press conferences press conferences that included sniping from each party, including the commissioner.
Just two months earlier, the Maloofs, Johnson and Stern joyfully announced they had reached a handshake agreement for $391 million arena near downtown Sacramento. The deal was proposed to finance the arena from future city parking revenues, the Maloofs and AEG, the corporation which was to run the facility.
Despite term-sheet approval by the city council, the arena project hit a number of snags during the past two weeks. The Maloofs released a letter to the city outlining flaws in the agreement and discussed those issues Thursday with the other owners at the NBA meetings before it became public that the deal had dissolved.