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Johnson Confused by Maloof Statements and Actions

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says he is making contingency plans should the Maloofs try to back out of the arena deal.  What the Mayor might be planning, he won't say.  But he is not ruling out the option of asking the NBA to force the Maloofs to sell the team to billionaire Ron Burkle.   Burkle has said he'd buy the team and keep it in Sacramento.

The Maloofs are refusing to pay $3 million in pre-development costs for the downtown arena.  Johnson spoke to the issue after a media event on a windy rooftop in Sacramento.  He says all parties had a handshake agreement.      

JOHNSON: "We don't want to get caught flat-footed.  We need to make sure we're protecting our community in all ways and we need to look at all of our options.  You know, you can't make public statements that say one thing and then privately be doing another.  I don't think that's in the spirit of what we all thought and where we thought we'd be at this point."

Johnson says he's been "dumbfounded" by the Maloofs' refusal to pay pre-development costs and by a recent torrent of letters and paperwork coming from the Maloofs attorney.   The letters question the city's ability to build an arena on time.  

After the Mayor made his comments, the Maloofs released a statement.  They say it's "extremely unfair" to ask them -as a tenant- to pay for pre-development costs. 

The mayor says it is common for a tenant to pay some up-front costs.  A representative of the Orlando Magic confirmed to Capital Public Radio the team paid for pre-development costs including an architect prior to the Amway Center's ground breaking in 2008.

The NBA Board of Governors meets in a week and a half.  Johnson says the outcome of the meeting will be telling.  He also says NBA  Commissioner David Stern has assured him the league is fully committed to a new arena in Sacramento.

State Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg weighed in on the assertion by the Maloofs that the city might be in danger of missing its 2015 opening-day deadline due to enivornmental delays. 

STEINBERG: "With the proper mix of mass transit, energy efficiency, and other objectives there is no reason to believe this project couldn't meet AB 900 requirements." ]\

The Sacramento City Council will consider moving ahead with the environmental review process at tonight's meeting.

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