Anaheim pursuing Sacramento Kings

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The city of Anaheim has effectively acknowledged its pursuit of the Sacramento Kings, revealing a financial plan to entice the NBA team to relocate to Honda Center with $75 million in bonds.

Anaheim mayor Tom Tait didn't mention the Kings by name Friday, but said the deal to be considered at a special city council meeting Tuesday poses no financial risk to Anaheim taxpayers.

"As mayor, I look forward to joining my colleagues on Tuesday to consider these important agenda items," Tait said in a statement released to media outlets. "As a basketball fan, I'm hoping that we will soon be cheering at that first tipoff at Anaheim's own Honda Center."

Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof have been in private discussions for several months on a move out of their aging Sacramento building formerly known as Arco Arena. They must file for relocation with the NBA by April 18.

The details of the potential deal are found in a staff report to the City Council posted on Anaheim's website. A 103-page lease delineates the terms of a deal for an unidentified potential NBA tenant in the city-owned Honda Center, which is managed by a company controlled by billionaire Henry Samueli, the owner of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks.

The proposed deal includes $25 million for Honda Center upgrades -- likely to include a new locker room, a sports training area and a practice court -- and $50 million in transition costs, likely including relocation fees charged by the NBA.

The bonds would be funded by private investors and repaid by arena revenue, according to the lease. Samueli, an avid basketball fan who has wanted an NBA team as a co-tenant for several years, is the financial muscle behind the bond arrangement.

The move still is far from a done deal. The Maloofs must get permission from a majority of the NBA's other owners to make the move, which isn't a sure thing -- and they'll have to pay their fellow owners for the privilege, including significant payments to the Lakers and Clippers, who share Staples Center 35 miles away.

The Lakers and Clippers haven't commented publicly, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson criticized the move before his club faced the Clippers on Friday night.

"What other metropolitan area has three teams in it?" Jackson asked. "It's ridiculous to put another franchise in this market. It just doesn't make sense to do that."

In the only similar sports arrangement, the New York City metropolitan area's 19 million people support three NHL teams. The five-county Los Angeles area had nearly 18 million residents at the most recent count, and the Kings likely would attempt to expand their fan base out of Orange County into the San Diego area, which has no NBA team.

The Kings, who haven't commented on the prospective move, already have moved well down the road to abandoning Sacramento, their home since 1985.

An attorney who has represented the Maloofs recently filed federal trademark registrations on four potential names for their well-traveled franchise, which apparently will revert to the Royals nickname used during its genesis in Rochester and Cincinnati.

That name is likely to be Anaheim Royals, because the City Council also plans to affirm its rule that any tenant uses Anaheim as its only geographic identifier. The city is determined to avoid the embarrassment of the local baseball team's decision to rename itself the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2005, sparking a four-year legal battle.

"One issue that is important to our community is that any new professional team sport our city's name -- and our name only," Tait said. "Be assured that the city's staff has addressed that issue very clearly."