With the clock clicking down, the Sacramento City Council took its last shot at keeping the NBA Kings in California’s capital by approving a public-private deal Tuesday to build a new 18,500-seat arena and retail center downtown.

Approval of the arena was the last step in what has been a full court press by Mayor Kevin Johnson to keep the city’s only major league sports team from bolting to Seattle, where a new ownership group and arena deal awaits. He now must convince NBA owners to block the Maloof family from initiating the move, a deal made public in January.

Since then, the mayor, himself a former NBA All-Star, has scrambled to assemble a group to buy the team, convince Commissioner David Stern to consider a counter offer, and get approval for the financial deal that would build a $448 million arena on the site of a shopping mall - a development many say will revitalize a problem area in its bustling city core.

Next week, Johnson will present the arena plan and purchase offer to an NBA committee. The following week, the NBA Board of Governors will vote on whether the team can be sold, and whether it will stay or move.

– Reported by the Associated Press

There were no surprises at the City Council meetings that ended a few hours. Council members voted 7-2 to approve a term sheet detailing the public’s contribution to the proposed $448 million downtown sports and entertainment complex, with Kevin McCarty and Darrell Fong - both of whom expressed concern about the city’s risk and the lack of time to more closely vet the agreement - voting against the agreement.

Tuesday’s vote was the latest development in Mayor Kevin Johnson’s campaign to keep the Kings in Sacramento. The Maloofs already sold their majority interest in the team to the Seattle-based group headed by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, but the league’s other owners (as stated in the NBA by-laws) have to approve all sales and relocations. Within the past several weeks, Johnson, attempting to come up with a counter bid, has put together a potential Kings ownership group that includes billionaire Ron Burkle, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive and Steve Jacobs, founder of San Diego-based-Qualcomm.

– Reported by the Sacramento Bee