Building a new arena for the Sacramento Kings has never been closer to reality.
The city, the Kings and the NBA announced a tentative deal Monday to finance a new arena that would keep the team in California’s capital for the long haul. The City Council will vote on the plan March 6.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, NBA commissioner David Stern and the Maloof family, which owns the Kings, emerged from three days of talks in Orlando, Fla. — where they had been negotiating all weekend during All-Star festivities — to announce that the framework of a deal had been reached, giving fans some 3,000 miles away in the Central Valley reason to cheer for a comeback story that fittingly came straight out of Fantasy Land.
“I think when we left Sacramento and came to Orlando, you guys asked me how close were we. I thought it was a free throw — and you need to make two free throws,” Johnson told reporters at a news conference at the Waldorf Astoria at Walt Disney World. “I think the city made the first free throw, and the Maloof family made the second free throw.
“It’s game over.”
Under the proposed terms of the deal, the city will contribute between $200 million and $250 million to the estimated $367 million arena, mostly by leasing out parking garages around the facility, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the full financing plan will not be made public until at least Thursday, said Sacramento also will create revenue through a ticket surcharge.
The Maloofs have agreed to contribute $75 million in upfront cash, which includes the sale of land around the team’s current suburban arena, along with paying off a current $67 million loan to the city and contributing more over the course of the deal. Arena operator AEG also agreed to pay almost $60 million.
“I think it’s great for our community,” a tearful Gavin Maloof said. “I’m glad it’s finally coming to an end after 13 years. It’s been a long road.”
The Kings almost moved to Anaheim, Calif., a year ago before Johnson and city leaders convinced the league to give Sacramento one last chance to help finance an arena. At one point, Johnson — a former NBA All-Star with the Phoenix Suns — even called the process a “slow death” and likened the city’s efforts to a “Hail Mary.”
■ LAKERS — Los Angeles team officials said Kobe Bryant suffered a “nasal fracture” when he was smacked in the nose by Dwyane Wade during the NBA All-Star Game.
The team said on its website that a CT scan revealed the extent of the injury, and the star guard was to be re-evaluated by an ear, nose and throat specialist when he returned to Los Angeles.
Bryant was bloodied during Sunday’s game at Orlando, Fla., which the West won, 152-149. He was knocked to the floor by Wade and examined after the game.
■ BULLS — Veteran Richard Hamilton appears close to returning to Chicago’s lineup.
Coach Tom Thibodeau stopped short of declaring him ready, although Hamilton has taken contact in practice. The Bulls play New Orleans today.
Hamilton, who has not played since Jan. 29, has been limited to 11 appearances because of thigh and groin problems.
Backup guard C.J. Watson, a Bishop Gorman High product, was cleared to play after missing the past two games because of a mild concussion. Also, Derrick Rose said his back felt so good that he didn’t get treatment during the All-Star break.
■ 76ERS — Center Spencer Hawes will miss at least the next two weeks because of a strained left Achilles that has forced him to sit out Philadelphia’s last nine games.
Hawes was examined by Dr. Richard Ferkel of the Southern California Orthopedic Institute during the All-Star break, the team said in a statement. He will no longer wear a protective boot on his left foot, but it’s uncertain when he’ll play again.
The 7-footer is averaging 10.5 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds.
■ ROCKETS — Houston rookie reserve Marcus Morris faces a misdemeanor battery citation over a reported bar incident several hours after his former Kansas teammates beat Missouri on Saturday.
The citation stems from a 2:37 a.m. Sunday police call to a Lawrence, Kan., bar.
Police spokeswoman Kim Murphree said a male employee was punched twice and that two men received citations. Little said those citations show that Marcus Morris is scheduled to appear March 20 in Lawrence Municipal Court.
Morris had attended the Missouri-Kansas game with his twin brother, Markieff, a former Jayhawk who now plays for the Phoenix Suns. Markieff wasn’t implicated.
■ TRAIL BLAZERS — Former UNR standout Armon Johnson is looking for a new job in the NBA after Portland waived him to make room on its roster for center Joel Przybilla.
The former prep standout at Reno’s Hug High played in one game this year. In 38 games last year, he averaged approximately three points, one rebound and an assist in seven minutes per game.
Johnson still will receive the remainder of his guaranteed contract this season worth $788,872. Any NBA team can claim him off waivers over the next 10 days. After that, the 23-year-old is free to sign with any team.