Judge dismisses final lawsuit against plans to build arena in SoDo

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SACRAMENTO - A judge has thrown out another lawsuit to stop a new arena from being built in SoDo as a deadline looms for the investor group that wants to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle.

Opponents of the stadium sued, saying the arena violates city ordinance Initiative 91, and is a bad deal for taxpayers.   Up to $200 million in public funds could be spent building arena.  

Initiative 91 is the 2006 city ordinance that requires the city to profit from public money spent to finance a sports facility if the Sacramento Kings are moved to Seattle.

Superior Court Judge Laura Gene Middaugh sided with lawyers for the city and county, saying that because there's no final deal in place, it's not the right time to sue.

"We're confident that as this process goes forward that the city and couty will eventially approve a tarnsaction that complies with I-91," said attorney David Bruce.

"This ruling is yet another in a long line of affirmations that the city and county are doing things right in the effort to bring the Sonics home. We will continue to work in our region’s best interest to make this happen," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The ruling comes about a week ahead of the date when NBA owners will decide whether or not to approve the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen.  Having a clear shot at building an arena was seen as key in getting that sale approved.

 But it's not entirely over for opponents of a new arena.   The judge said that if a formal agreement on an arena is adopted between local government and the Hansen group, there'll be time to sue to stop the arena if it doesn't comply with I-91.  The  lawyer for the arena's opponents said further action is planned.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings’ current owner, the Maloof family, said the Sacramento investor group has to come up with a better written offer to match Seattle investor Chris Hansen’s $341 million bid to buy the NBA franchise by 5 p.m. Friday.

Hansen plans to move the Kings to Seattle and become the Sonics.

“It’s very odd that the Maloof family emerged from their self-imposed sarcophagus to put the gun to Kevin Johnson’s head and say 5 p.m. Friday or we shoot you dead,” said Art Thiel of sportspressnw.com.

The better offer came after one of the Sacramento investors, Ron Burkle, backed out Monday and developer Mark Friedman stepped in as a new investor.

On Wednesday night during the Kings game, Mayor Kevin Johnson told a group of reporters the city’s offer is “better than competitive.”

However, even if the Sacramento group’s offer matches Seattle’s, the Maloofs will consider it only as a strong backup offer.

The Sports Business Daily reports that the family wants the backup in case the NBA denies the sale of the team.

The final decision could be made by April 19, when the NBA Board of Governors meets and decides whether or not the Kings will move to Seattle.