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Mayor Kevin Johnson meets with Kings co-owner in Vegas


Posted Apr 21 2012 1:39AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson met with Kings co-owner George Maloof on Friday in Las Vegas in an attempt to revive talks about a new arena for the NBA team.

"The first thing to say is that we had a productive meeting," Johnson said Friday night at halftime of the Kings-Thunder game. "I thought it was important to keep the lines of communication open. In the spirit of Sacramento, if anything is going to be productive, we have to communicate.

"We didn't get into the core principles of the deal. That wasn't what it was about. It was just us sitting down face to face and talking about possibilities.

"It was a solid step forward. We agreed to have a follow-up conversation next week."

The Maloof family issued a statement after the meeting,

"This afternoon Mayor Kevin Johnson had a meeting at the Palms Hotel and met with George Maloof for nearly an hour," the statement said. "The meeting was cordial; however, nothing definitive resulted from the meeting. The Maloof family will not have any further comments on the meeting."

The Maloof family has balked at terms of an agreement reached last month, though saying they want to remain in Sacramento. City officials, led by former NBA star Johnson, met with the Maloofs and league officials during the NBA's All-Star weekend in Orlando in February, celebrating a tentative deal to fund the estimated $391 million arena that would open for the 2015-16 season in the downtown rail yards.

But the Maloofs have since taken issue with some of the terms - particularly environmental and pre-development costs that Johnson said made up less than 1 percent of the project's cost.

Johnson has said Sacramento would be interested in keeping the Kings under another owner, but the Maloofs have repeatedly said they aren't interested in selling, even as they have faced financial difficulties that left the family with only 2 percent of their ownership of the Palms Casino.

Anaheim is still interested in luring a team to the city-owned Honda Center with the backing of Henry Samueli, the billionaire technology executive who owns the NHL's Anaheim Ducks. Samueli recently embarked on a $20 million improvement project, adding several amenities to the well-maintained arena by early 2013.

Johnson was asked if he trusted the Maloofs when they say they want to stay in Sacramento.

"I've got to take them at face value," Johnson said.

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