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City leaders, Kings owners reach arena deal
By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer
Jul 21, 2006 - 2:36:00 PM

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SACRAMENTO (AP) -- City leaders reached a deal Thursday to build a new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings, using a quarter-cent sales tax that would require voter approval in November.

The arena was projected to cost between $470 million and $542 million, with the Kings' owners -- Maloof Sports & Entertainment, owned by the Maloof family -- contributing around $122 million in payments over the life of the deal to finance the downtown project.

The Maloofs also agreed to sign a 30-year lease and put $20 million in a repair fund for the new facility. The team's owners also pledged to pay off their current $72 million loan from the city.

The family has been negotiating with the city and Sacramento County for years about public financing for a new arena amid local fears the Maloofs might move the team to Las Vegas, where they also own a lucrative casino.

"A 400-pound weight has been lifted off my back," said Gavin Maloof, who with his brother, Joe, worked out the compromise during heated negotiations in Las Vegas.

Former state Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, who represented the family in negotiations, said he believed the agreement was a fair deal for both parties.

At a press conference Thursday night, the brothers said the biggest challenge will be persuading the public to support a countywide quarter-cent sales tax.

"Ultimately they're going to have to look at it themselves and make their own decision," Joe Maloof said. But he refused to speculate on what might happen to the team if voters reject the tax. "We don't think negative like that. It's not going to be a no. It's going to be a yes."

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors was expected to vote Aug. 2 on whether to place the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Polls have shown tepid voter support for a new sales tax to sponsor the arena. A quarter-cent sales tax could produce about $1.2 billion in revenues over 15 years, according to projections.

The Kings currently play at Arco Arena.

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