The negotiations between the city of Sacramento and the Kings — an effort to build a new stadium and keep the franchise in town — have rarely been pretty at any point in the process up until now. That said, the situation was starting to look a little brighter. That is, until reports surfaced in the last week that the negotiations had hit a bump.
Essentially, this hangup seems to come over the balance of a little more than $3 million that the city is asking the Maloofs to cover as part of pre-development costs in the term sheet. That seems like pennies compared to the more than $73 million the family would put in as part of the stadium project in general, but George Maloof says it’s not about the money, but more about the principle. It’s a big ugly once again and we’ll have to wait to see where it goes from here.
George Maloof joined KHTK in Sacramento with Grant Napear to discuss the family’s commitment to Sacramento, what the pre-development cost dispute is all about, what it means for the project going forward, what it looks like to the fans to haggle over $3 million at this point, having these disputes go public, if the goodwill that seemed to be building is now tarnished and if the stadium can still feasibly be ready by 2015.
Is your family 100 percent committed to staying in Sacramento?:
“Yes. We are 100 percent committed. We always have been. From the moment we decided to stay in Sacramento a year ago, we were committed in trying to make this deal work and that hasn’t changed.”
The commissioner was on this show a couple weeks ago and said there was a pre-development agreement, but that it still had to be worked out. Explain what that all means:
“Our position all along on the pre-development agreement has been the same. We’ve made it clear that, as a tenant, we shouldn’t pay for pre-development costs. That’s something very common. We’ve been a developer for how many years, 30 or 40 years. I’ve never seen a landlord or an owner not pay for pre-development costs. I’ve never seen a tenant pay for those costs. Couple with that, the city or somebody wanted us to also pay for the costs of the contribution of AEG in case the project didn’t move forward. We felt that was completely unfair. We have not changed our position since Day One. That’s our position.”
What does this mean going forward?:
“I think that it’s probably a bump, maybe a hurdle — between a bump and a hurdle. It can be worked out. If everybody has good intentions, we’ll work it out. We’re going to have these things as we move forward because I can tell you that there are other unresolved issues from our perspective in the term sheet that everybody knows about. Those need to be worked out as well. But that doesn’t mean that this deal can’t get done. We’re very optimistic that it can get done and our full intention is to make it happen. We’re not looking at any other city and we’re not trying to do something that would hinder this deal so we would end up in another city. That’s not our intention at all.”
How do you respond to fans wondering why you’re haggling over a little more than $3 million when you have the lowest payroll in the league and are on the docket for more than $73 million when it comes to the stadium project?:
“We have a commitment for that money, number one. Number two, as far as the $3.5 million, again, I don’t care if you have $80 billion or five dollars, you have certain principles as you negotiate and there’s certain things you’re not going to do. You’re going to have disagreements as you negotiate the deal going forward. One of the disagreements is this pre-development cost. It has nothing to do with how much money you have and it’s not a money issue for us. Again, it’s just something that’s a conceptual thing that we don’t think we should pay and we certainly don’t think we should reimburse AEG for their costs.”
Would it be easier to try to have these discussions behind closed doors or is that just not possible?:
“I don’t think it’s possible, to be honest with you. I know that when we negotiated this deal six years ago, it was irritating for us because everything was so public and in the paper. But that’s life. That’s how it is. When the public is putting up money, they should be informed and they should know what’s going on. We don’t have a problem with that. … Do they have to know every single breath and every minute of every negotiation? Absolutely not. But they have rights to know how their money is being spent. We’re used to it. We’ve done it before.”
It seemed like the goodwill had been restored for all parties, but now the perception could be that it’s tarnished again, right?:
“That’s too bad that that’s happening because there’s no reason why it should be. We’ve dealt in good faith and been very up front with our position, particularly on the pre-development cost, from Day One. … That’s not fair to us. But we have thick skin and I hope everyone else involved in this has thick skin because that’s what it takes to negotiate a deal like this. But we’re not going to sit around and not speak up when we think something’s not factual. I can tell you that the stories that have come out, to me, weren’t factual.”
Is it still feasible to have an arena open by the fall of 2015?:
“The city believes that. One of the things that we did is put together a document and sent it to the city that had a lot of concerns. … They were confident they can reach that date. They thought it would be close but they were confident they could reach that date. … They’re the ones that are kind of running the show. All I can tell you is what they tell us. If they’re confident, we’ll just trust that they can get it done and we’ll work together to try to get it done.”