SACRAMENTO — The only place the Sacramento Kings are moving to is a new downtown home in California's capital.
A year after almost being wiped off the NBA map, Sacramento cleared the most critical political hurdle late Tuesday night when the City Council approved a plan to help finance an estimated $391 million arena, setting off cheers through the cramped chambers that spilled onto the streets of downtown with a message that echoed from Anaheim to Seattle and across the basketball world.
"Long live Sacramento, and long live the Kings!" shouted Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson to a sea of supporters that packed the grounds for the historic vote.
The non-binding term sheet, signed off by the Kings and the NBA last week, will keep the team in Sacramento for at least another 30 years.
Cheers rang out from supporters who cramped the council's chambers when the plan passed by a 7-2 vote — the last coming with Johnson screaming "Yeeeees!" — and pushed the city's portion of the agreement forward. Binding contracts from all sides, which are expected to be a formality, could be signed as soon as April.
Asked what the biggest challenge remaining was, Johnson told the crowd: "That everybody behind me is not hung over going into tomorrow."
Under the agreement, the city will contribute $255.5 million to the project, mostly by leasing out parking garages around the facility. The city is also exploring an option to establish a parking authority instead.
The Kings have agreed to pay $73.25 million and arena operator AEG will contribute $58.75 million. The remaining gap will be covered by a ticket surcharge, advertising around the facility, the sale of public lands and a sponsorship campaign to sell bricks and plaques around the complex. Construction is expected to begin in the late spring or early summer next year on the arena, which would open for the 2015-16 season in the downtown rail yards.