Well kind of, the discussion has turned to what happens with an old arena without a major league tenant.
The difference is that the lease ended, and the Maloofs could walk away, giving up the arena and $25 million in cash. That's much less than the $77 million dollars due bond holders.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With the news last week that the Sacramento Kings may be sold and moved to Seattle, residents and city officials found themselves facing an old fear: Would team owners dare skip town on the controversial 15-year-old loan from the city when they leave?
The team owes $64 million. According to city officials, the day the moving trucks pull onto Interstate 5 headed north, team owners must pay that amount plus a $13 million prepayment penalty - $77 million in all.
"There is no way somebody is buying our team and moving it without making good on that loan," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson vowed last week.
It's uncertain, however, if the team's prospective owners would agree.
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Thomas Joo, a contracts law expert at the University of California, Davis, who reviewed the loan documents at The Bee's request, said the contract appears to leave open for debate the Kings' options for how to make good on their debt if the team leaves town.
The Kings put up as collateral Sleep Train Arena, its 83-acre property, and a $25million stake in the team. UCD's Joo said the Kings could conceivably try to settle the loan by offering some cash and forfeiting the arena.
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Sacramento city officials said it's too early to know what scenario will play out, but point out that if the team were to default, the city is not legally obligated to tap into its general fund to help pay bondholders.
The city or a trustee could sell the arena and use proceeds to pay some of the bonds, along with the $25 million collateral payment from the team.
The city also could try operating the arena and using profits to pay the bondholders. A number of cities, including Seattle and Kansas City, own and operate arenas without a major league team as tenant, booking concerts, ice shows, circuses, college and other sports, and other events.
Seattle and Kansas City say their arenas are moneymakers. But Deborah Daoust, spokeswoman for KeyArena in Seattle, said it took three years after the SuperSonics team left in 2008 before the city began making money from arena events, and profits remain small.
Mayor Johnson said last week he still wants to build a new arena downtown, whether or not the Kings stay.
It's uncertain whether that will pencil out, though. A city study last year concluded a new arena would be hard to finance without a major league team. Johnson rekindled the idea last week, saying recent talks with potential investors and arena operators has made him more optimistic it can be done.
Read more here: Kings' loan to city of Sacramento a sticking point
Do they have roller derby?