Editorial: Maloofs break agreement for the new arena

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Fans have endured a lack of commitment from the Kings’ owners–the Maloof family–for over a decade now. The time has come for them to either put up or shut up.

In a letter to the Maloofs on April 12, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson expressed his disappointment with the Maloofs for not honoring their verbal agreement, making it clear that the city would not change the terms of the deal.

“The best – and only – way to demonstrate that commitment is to honor the ‘fair deal’ as all other parties have done,” Johnson wrote. “Your handshake is your handshake. Your promise is your promise.”

Unfortunately, a handshake and a promise mean nothing to the Maloofs, and by sale or by self-enlightenment, it’s time the Sacramento Kings had an owner, or owners, that did value such agreements.

It was barely over a month ago that the Sacramento City Council approved a term sheet that outlined the funding for a new arena in Sacramento. A term sheet that had been agreed upon by the NBA, Anschutz Entertainment Group, the city of Sacramento and the Maloofs.

Excitement filled new City Hall in downtown Sacramento, and Gavin Maloof high-fived the many arena supporters in attendance.

As of April 13, Friday the 13th of all days, high-fives are the last thing arena supporters would give to any members of the Maloof family.

The Maloofs backed out of an arena deal that was initially deemed fair by all parties–including themselves–citing numerous disagreements they had with the term sheet in a PowerPoint presentation delivered at the NBA Board of Governors meeting.

While the Maloofs said they had disagreed with much of the term sheet from the get-go, it sure didn’t seem that way when they walked on to center court of the Feb. 28 game against the Utah Jazz with Mayor Johnson, hands raised in the spirit of victory.

It didn’t seem that way when Gavin Maloof shed tears of joy after closed door negotiating during the 2012 All-Star weekend in Orlando, Fla.

The Maloofs pleaded for a new arena for the better part of the last decade and are on record as saying that renovating the existing Power Balance Pavilion was not a reasonable option for them.

But when the city of Sacramento stepped up to the challenge of putting a feasible plan in place and the Maloofs were asked to pay up, they found a slew of reasons to back out of the deal and even backpedaled to suggesting Power Balance Pavilion renovation was now an option.

Confused yet?

The only clarity that has come from this debacle, is that the Maloofs either need to invest in the city of Sacramento with cold hard cash and signatures or sell the Kings to one of the several reported parties interested in purchasing the team.

Sacramento has proven its loyalty to the Kings, and the city does not deserve to be jerked around. Fans have sold out 19 of the 26 seasons the Kings have been in Sacramento, and the city was–and still is–willing to put up $255.5 million towards the construction of a new arena, according to the term sheet.

Sacramento has come through with a plan that was accepted by the Sacramento City Council, even when NBA owners and Commissioner David Stern were pessimistic toward the possibility that it could come up with a plan.

All the Maloofs have done thus far is hurt a city that has been nothing but loyal to them, and in the process, they have burned the bridge with a mayor that sincerely cared about being a partner and getting this deal done.

The Maloofs have also failed to realize that the arena deal is bigger than basketball. It is a chance to be a part of history. It is a chance to revamp the image and economics of a depressed city. It is a chance to be immortalized forever in Northern California.

It’s time the Maloofs either pony up some cash and invest in their team and their city or sell the team to somebody that will.

The city of Sacramento and the Kings deserve it.

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