The executive director of a grassroots organization formed by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to facilitate a new downtown arena for the Kings released a letter Sunday denouncing the Maloof family for pulling out of the deal and hinting that an ownership alternative for the team should be presented to the NBA.
"Amongst the next steps to potentially consider is the approach taken by the City of San Francisco when it looked like the San Francisco Giants were going to relocate," wrote Chris Lahane, executive director of Think BIG, in a letter to coalition members obtained by CBSSports.com and other news outlets. "In San Francisco, a local community group came together to present an alternative ownership group to Major League Baseball."
In the letter, Lehane also reiterated Johnson's objections to the Maloofs pulling out of the arena financing deal that was agreed to at All-Star weekend in Orlando, and wrote that the Maloofs "do not have the financial ability to fulfill their commitments." According to Lehane, the Maloofs objected not only to paying pre-development costs for the arena site, but also did not want to commit to a 30-year lease or pay standard game-day expenes such as wages for ushers and ticket-takers and municipal services, such as police, fire and traffic control.
UPDATE: Eric Rose, spokesman for the Maloofs, furnished a scathing rebuttal to CBSSports.com in which he stated, among other things, that Lehane "does not know what he is talking about."
"Wild accusations cannot mask the financial calamity which would have befallen the city of Sacramento had the parties proceeded on a railroad arena project that made no economic sense," Rose said in the written statement. "The spokesperson for the utility companies who caused the California energy crisis and Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis is apparently now hunting for his next crisis management client."
So yes, things are going swell between the Maloofs and Sacramento, thanks for asking.
On Friday in New York, the Maloofs pulled out of the arena financing deal, which called for the public to may $255 million of the approximately $400 million arena cost. Amid fallout from their decision, which a league source told CBSSports.com Sunday has infuriated their fellow owners, the Maloofs have reiterated that they want to keep the team in Sacramento.
"I swear that is not going to happen," Joe Maloof told the Sacramento Bee, when asked if the family plans to file for relocation.
Commissioner David Stern backed the Maloofs' decision to pull out of the deal, calling it "their prerogative." But the Maloofs' fellow owners are at their wit's end with the family's bungling of the arena deal, according to a person familiar with the Board of Governors' stance.
"We can complain, we can jawbone them, but there's nothing we can do," the person said. "We can't force them to sell."
After the Board of Governors meeting Friday, chairman Glen Taylor of the Timberwolves told CBSSports.com that the Maloofs' proposed alternative -- renovating the existing arena, an option the family had opposed for years -- was "not a viable alternative ."
"I really wish they would've stayed and worked with the city," Taylor said. "I think the city has come a long way. It's been a good community, and I wish they could resolve their differences."