AEG invested in keeping Kings in Sacramento
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has heavyweights on his side.
The NBA player-turned-politician has insisted for more than a year the Sacramento Kings aren’t going anywhere, even as a Seattle-based group reportedly closes in on a deal with the Maloof family, owners of the franchise. Johnson brought out some of his big guns Tuesday.
Anschultz Entertainment Group, the conglomerate that owns Los Angeles’ Staples Center and more, reminded everyone Tuesday that their NBA-backed plan for an arena and downtown venue in Sacramento is still in the discussion. Furthermore, their plan remains backed by David Stern, who told AEG President Tim Leiweke to re-engage in planning the project.
“To the commissioner’s credit, I don’t think he ever forgot about Sacramento,” Leiweke told The Sacramento Bee.
That’s the kind of line that supports Johnson’s hopes, well-summarized by USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick:
While much is left to be learned about Sacramento’s counter-punch to the reported agreement between the Maloof family that owns the team and the Seattle-based group headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, people close to Johnson swear he’s genuinely optimistic that he can save the Kings again. This is fait accompli everywhere else, with league insiders insisting that the Board of Governors would be eager to approve a move to Seattle, but it’s just the beginning of the fight that could turn ugly here if you ask the power players in Sacramento.
AEG is a big-time player in the California sports scene, owning shares of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy, plus the Galaxy’s home field, the Home Depot Center along with Staples Center. The conglomerate was sold in September, but it hasn’t forgotten its plans for California’s state capital.
“We haven’t changed our opinion about Sacramento or the arena,” Leiweke said.
And Stern hasn’t changed his opinion on a plan the NBA helped form before the Maloofs rejected it last year.