Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is making a last-minute trip to New York to meet with NBA officials and the owners of his city's professional basketball franchise as all sides try to preserve a $400 million plan to build a new sports arena in California's capital.
Johnson's trip comes as a dispute intensifies between the city and the Maloof family, which is balking at paying any pre-development costs for the new arena.
The status of the Kings is closely watched by Seattle officials and a private investor group committed to building a $490 million arena in SODO. The Maloof family has said it will relocate the Kings if a new Sacramento facility isn't built.
NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to meet with the Maloofs and Johnson in New York on Friday. Stern is also scheduled to hold a press conference Friday afternoon at which he may discuss the Kings situation.
Sacramento officials, meanwhile, have said work on the arena project will halt as of April 17 unless the disagreement over development costs is resolved, the Sacramento Bee reported. And a group of business leaders this week called on the NBA to find new owners for the Kings.
The Maloofs maintain that they are committed to keeping the team in Sacramento. In a statement issued Thursday, family spokesperson Eric W. Rose said the Maloofs "are saddened and disappointed when members of the community, who are not fully informed on the true details of the complex dealings in this arena process, choose to criticize us publicly today at a news conference."
"We share in the community’s frustration on forging a workable agreement on what is ultimately a $400 million transaction that will impact the region for many years to come," the statement continued. "However, we must all remember what is at stake in the development of a new arena in Sacramento, and must insure the agreement works for all parties involved, and most importantly, the residents of the City."
The group in Seattle is led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who Hansen has been buying up property at the proposed site just south of Safeco Field.
Additional reporting by KING 5 News's Chris Daniels and the Associated Press.