We are never getting the Kings. We know that. The book is closed on the issue.
Can we also close the book on a related issue that came up repeatedly during that entire fiasco? The issue was whether or not Vivek Ranadive and his group controlled all of the land necessary to build its arena.
When Chris Hansen met with NBA owners, who were charged with deciding the fate of the Kings, he made his position on the issue very clear. According to numerous reports, he pointed out that the Seattle group had complete ownership of all necessary real estate and that the Sacramento group did not. This was to demonstrate how much farther along in the process Seattle was.
Sacramento's Chris Lehane, an adviser to Mayor Kevin Johnson, strongly refuted that claim and even gloated about how Hansen made a critical mistake in that argument. He did so in an article at the Sacramento Bee, which you can read by clicking here.
Here is an excerpt.
Once inside, the Sacramento group couldn't believe its good fortune. Based on the questions from the committees, it appeared the Seattle delegation had blundered.
According to Lehane, the Seattle group made false and easily refutable claims about Sacramento. The most blatant: Sacramento's investors didn't control the land they needed to build an arena.
"We all sort of looked at each other like, is this a trick question?" Lehane said. "It was an enormous mistake." The miscue let Sacramento bolster its credibility.
After reading that article, I remember thinking to myself "Maybe we were wrong all along. Maybe they had complete ownership or at least agreements in place".
Guess what. We weren't wrong.
Chris Hansen wasn't wrong and the Sacramento group knows it. Why do I say that? Read today's article in the Bee by Ryan Lillis and Dale Kasler, entitled "Kings owners ask city to possibly use eminent domain threat in arena site talks". Click here to read it.
The article opens this way...
After months of negotiations, the new Sacramento Kings ownership group has been unable to close the deal on buying the remaining parcel at Downtown Plaza seen as vital to the development of a new arena.
Now, to remain on track to open the facility by 2016, the team is asking City Hall to assist in the talks and provide its threat of eminent domain as a potential negotiating tactic.
Eminent domain is the nuclear option for a city looking to acquire land that it needs. In my opinion, it's an unethical option for a city looking to acquire land that it simply wants. Whether it's a need or a want, however, it's not an option you use unless it's the last resort. Nor is it an option you use if you already control the land.
I don't know if the Sacramento group flat out lied to the NBA or if they had the eminent domain idea in mind all along, but I do know three things. Chris Hansen didn't blunder, the Sacramento group DOES NOT HAVE all of the land they need, and the Seattle group does.
I just felt like this needed to be said.