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Honda Center eyes NBA with project

NBA

Henry and Susan Samueli and city leaders take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a $20-million upgrade of the venue that they hope will pull the team south if it can't get an arena built in Sacramento.

February 09, 2012|Lance Pugmire
  • Ducks owner Henry Samueli is hoping a $20-million upgrade of the Honda Center will help pull the Kings south if they can't get an arena built in Sacramento.
Ducks owner Henry Samueli is hoping a $20-million upgrade of the Honda Center… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Honda Center owners Henry and Susan Samueli were joined by Anaheim city leaders Wednesday in a groundbreaking ceremony for a $20-million project described as the most extensive upgrade in the venue's history.

The city maintains a strong interest in luring the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

Anaheim is awaiting a March 1 deadline Kings owners have for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to reveal a financing plan to build an arena in Sacramento.

"We can envision a day fans will attend NHL hockey, concerts and NBA basketball games here," Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said at the ceremony, dropping in the NBA's old advertising slogan for effect. "It will be fan-tastic."

Clearly, the potential of an NBA team's arrival in Orange County prompted the Grand Terrace project, a 15,000-square-foot addition that will include indoor and outdoor seating, a new sports-themed restaurant and an expanded team store when completed in early 2013. Eighty percent of 1,000 memberships to a private Grand Terrace area have been sold.

The NBA last year asked the Kings' owners, brothers Gavin and Joe Maloof, to wait one more year before moving the team to Anaheim to give Sacramento a chance to produce an arena plan.

A Sacramento task force called "Think Big" is prepared to unveil its plan for a $387-million downtown railyard arena project to the city council Tuesday, hoping the council will ultimately approve the plan at its Feb. 28 meeting.

Jeremiah Jackson, project manager of the task force, said the venue can be paid for with the help of a parking deal, the sale of existing land where Arco Arena stands and profits from digital signage around the arena.

"The ball's in Sacramento's court," Jackson said. "This is the fourth quarter, and Sacramento's at the free-throw line. I believe the deal will get done."

The Maloofs declined to comment about Sacramento's plan.

Samueli said he's "just waiting and standing on the sidelines" of the Sacramento situation. "If [the Maloofs] need to come to us in the future, they have our phone number."

Samueli said the vision of putting an NBA team in Anaheim "hasn't changed," regardless of the year's wait or Seattle's interest in landing the Kings. The SuperSonics left Seattle and became the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2008-09 season.

"We welcome everyone to participate in the process," Samueli said. "We're absolutely convinced this market and region can support [the NBA]."

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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