Sacramento Would Lose More Than Team


h

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – And so it has come to this: A fan base that came to dislike the Maloof family in a way few cities have ever disliked the owners of any franchise in any sport now need the Maloofs to be the Maloofs to have any hope of keeping the Kings.

That’s why one organization, two cities and millions of fans waiting to (a) celebrate or (b) officially get stabbed in the heart were anxious Wednesday as Yahoo! Sports reported that the Kings were close to being sold to a group that would move the team to Seattle next season. Because the Kings have been close to leaving once before and on another occasion close to staying, only to have both fall through.

This could still fall through, too. The Maloofs – the three brothers most intimately involved, plus other siblings, plus their mother – were so deep in talks with Anaheim in spring 2011 that they received an extension on the deadline to file for relocation, before ultimately, and, smartly, deciding against becoming the third NBA team, and the only invisible one, in the Los Angeles market. Then, last February, often-contentious negotiations with Sacramento officials gave way to a deal brokered at All-Star weekend for a new downtown arena that would keep the love affair between the city and the team alive, only to have the family walk away from the agreement in principle. One of the brothers showed up at the subsequent City Council meeting to support the vote to approve the deal, a couple of the Maloofs walked to center court with Mayor Kevin Johnson during a timeout at a Kings game and raised hands in triumph, and still the family walked away.

So there remains a fair degree of uncertainty, even with the story from the very credible Adrian Wojnarowski that the Maloofs and the Seattle group are close to a deal, that this really is the end of the NBA in Sacramento.

But if it is?

The bruise will leave a spray of black and blue.

This isn’t just about basketball. It’s not even about the immediacy of the economic impact of a team here vs. no team here, with paychecks for game-night workers and business for hotels and restaurants when teams come to town. This is about everything.

The emotions: The Kings are part of the fabric of the community. That was the case when they were playoff regulars and that remains true as they annually drown in the standings. There is a lot more anger now, but that’s a sign of how much people want their fun back. And most of the anger is for the Maloofs, along with the rising tide of frustration for Geoff Petrie as head of basketball operations.

The economy: The departure of the Kings goes so far beyond losing the NBA. Members of the visitor’s bureau have worried for years about how a potential exit could hit Sacramento in ways that might not be measurable for years. Convention business could suffer as groups take conventions to cities that seem more major league. Service industries will suffer in what is already a time of financial hardships.

The arena: Sacramento still needs one. Sleep Train Arena – the former Arco Arena – has already been losing business, sometimes to smaller facilities in town and sometimes to other locales all together. Johnson has been forceful in saying his hometown must have an entertainment complex whether the Kings are part of it or not. Now, he might have to get the money without being able to promise voters an anchor tenant.

The region: The place that was one the shining example of what the NBA wanted its fan bases to be like is on the verge of having no major-league sports. Oakland is about 75 miles away, San Francisco about 90, but Sacramento itself has a microscopic amount of interest in college sports. It has one of the best minor-league baseball stadiums in the country and a deep baseball tradition, but no real passion for what happens on the field with the Class AAA affiliate of the A’s. That’s what the Kings are/were for.

There will be some local hope that Sacramento could one day get another team, the way the league looked favorably at Charlotte for years of support that was washed away by a distaste for ownership, if an arena is built. And, indeed, Johnson has built major credibility with owners and league executives. But the former All-Star point guard with the Suns has received the message from commissioner David Stern loud and clear: Don’t wait by the phone. While there is no way to know what the world will look like in five years, chances are very, very slim.

If Sacramento wants the NBA, it needs the Seattle deal to fall apart. It needs to work with these owners, get an arena, and hope for a sale later. It needs the Maloofs to be the Maloofs.

38 Comments

  1. ko0kie says:

    C.R.E.A.M.

  2. Tim NBA Fan says:

    It’s interesting that all 4 NBA teams in California were transplanted from other areas. The Warriors, Royals, and Lakers were all part of the original BAA/NBL leagues located in Philadelphia, Western New York state, and Minnesota. The Warriors and Lakers kept their names, and moved to the bay area and Los Angeles respectively, where they have settled in as iconic, historic, NBA defining franchises. The Braves were an expansion team bringing the NBA back to Western New York after the Royals left Rochester. The Royals kept moving west, became the Kings, and eventually landed
    in Sacramento in the 80’s. The Braves also moved west, moving to the city vacated by the only NBA expansion team in California history, the San Diego Rockets. The Braves became the Clippers, and after San Diego proved to be a bad spot for the NBA they moved to LA. All 4 teams have loyal fan bases and the economic capacity to support a high priced franchise, but Sacramento is economically the weakest of the 4, so it’s no surprise to see that they may move.

    The Sonics were an iconic NBA franchise. They had fans in and outside of Seattle. The huge popularity of the NBA is part of the reason why teams move. In eras of the past, prior to the surge in popularity in the 80’s, NBA attendance numbers for most teams were outright pathetic. Unlike back then, it’s not for a lack of fans that recent teams have moved or threatened to do so, but rather the NBA has so many fans worldwide, owners and cities have been forced out of the business by inflating franchise values. You can’t have a $400 Million team playing in a low rent arena, nor for a low rent owner. Sleep Train Arena? Not only does it sound low rent, it is. And the Maloofs are quickly getting priced outta the league, as low rent owners. Time for them to cash in.

    If the Kings do leave, it will be a little sad for Sacramento. However, the NBA may start expanding again after their next TV mega-deal. And Sacramento has enough history to show they can properly support an NBA team from their fan base, but they will have to grow as a city economically and go big if they want to be considered worthy of a $500
    million NBA franchise.

  3. James says:

    Honestly I find this news disappointing. Not that I care too much about what happens to Sacramento, I feel a little sorry for them and all but let’s face it: California has 4 teams and can afford to lose 1. Honestly I was hoping with the talk of Shaq trying to relocate a team to New Jersey that the Kings would be an option there. But I suppose he’ll just have to bring in a different one.

  4. Brandon Fong says:

    Both cities need an NBA team you can’t blame the arena being half empty when the maloofs dont wana put any money into the team

  5. Kings4Life! says:

    The kings should stay in sac-town because they been there forever and I used to watch and love them growing up.Even though I do now live in Washington I rather have the Kings stay in Sacramento and represent the city,rather moving to Seattle to replace a team that they miss!

  6. Alan Hollway says:

    I live overseas but I am a staunch NBA fan and even residing from outside America, I state what should be the obvious. “Notwithstanding the commerical nature of NBA business – profits and adveritising dollar”, the NBA needs cities like Sacramento just as it needs Seattle. Small markets are just as important or otherwise the NBA will be dominated by 4 major cities. A shining example of how it should be done is San Antonio. San Antonio a small city fanchise but one of the best in the business. This has to be the answer. Do not move the kings, get a new arena and start building up talent. The kings have the best fans of any team I have seen, it would be a tragedy to move the Kings from a city that so desperately needs them. The Maloofs are the problem, solution: new arena and the Maloofs sell out. As regards Seattle well they deserve a NBA team their as well because their history goes well back even further than the Kings. The supersonics should not have moved either. Let New Orleans become the Jazz, Charolotte to become the hornets again, Utah to be the bocats and if any team was to be sold and moved to Seattle it should be the Clippers! Let Hollywood L.A and its lakers egos have the city to all of its own, move the Clippers and their great team to Seattle and then we are in business.If not Clippers than rather than spend 500 million on moving the Kings let the guys in Seattle with the deep pockets get a totally new franchise but either way Sacramento and Seattle both have to be in the NBA.

    • mark says:

      if the clippers were a bad team they probably would have. they are too good now and la will not let them go. with you on renaming the franchises also. no jazz in utah

  7. mark says:

    sad to see the kings leave. i used to live in the area. the fans in sacramento are very loyal to a team that had very few winning seasons. funny also that my brother lived in seattle for several years, including when they left to okc. he was very sad to see them leave. he lived blocks away from key arena.
    i would like to point out that it’s been annoying for the maloofs to go back and forth on what they were going to do with california’s other norcal team. they have been playing with loyal fans emotions for several years now. i’m almost happy to see them leave at this point. i’m sick of hearing it on the news every other day. if they don’t want to be in sacramento, just go!!
    if i were the future sonics, i would wear the blue and green to match the other seattle pro teams.
    good luck sacramento; you deserve a franchise

  8. team2win1 says:

    Let’s face it kings fans, the original owners built Arco for less than 50 mil, themselves, the city didn’t help at all. Now the Maloofs are being asked to chip in as a tenant. If you are a tenant, then you can move if rents are more favorable. It’s a matter of time, but not for the wrong reasons. As Phil would say, Sactown will always be a cowtown..

  9. bj_hoops says:

    The Kings fan deserve much better…..Let’s stop buing tickets to Kings and give the Maloof miserable time for their last year in sac gamesSeatle fans should be feeling sorry to accept such a lousy owners like the Maloof family !!!!

  10. jeremy says:

    you know it is funny. i grew up in sacramento. i am a die hard kings fan for life. i live in spokane washington. the day the sonics left the whole state was like forget basketball. they didn’t want to pay for a new arean either. they didn’t care about the team. they just layed down and said ok whatever. well sacramento is different. the kings are sacramento. we have no seahawks, or mariners or anything that makes sacramento who we are. we lose moer then seattle fans can imagine. and y because the maloofs just never wanted to be in sacramento. the day the magoofs bought the kings the first thing was move to vegas. thats all u heard of. they even tried to talk to navada gaming commison about taking basketball off the books so it couls happen. but that would never fly so they had some low rent preseason games. so the magoofs motive in all of this was to move this team somewhere else. we just got lucky we cought fire right away with webber a peja and bibs.i think its time for the kings to make a move and stay in scarmento and find local owners. seattle was only a few years away from getting a expantion team anyway. please some one save our citys name,prestiege , and loyal fan base of getting what they next deserve. a loyal and commited owner!!!

  11. Kings Forever says:

    As a young Kings fan, this hurts me at the core. I have grown up with this team, through the good and then the bad. Regardless the number of wins or losses, I have loved this team just as much. In a city that is lacking the “fun” factor compared to other cities, to take away the Kings is to take away a crucial part of our identity. It may be true that Sacramento needs the Kings more than the Kings need Sacramento, but the fans of Sacramento has proven its worth as an NBA city. There are no words to describe the feelings of this loss. Seattle gets what it wants, at the expense of another city.

  12. Riyan says:

    If the deal doesn’t go through the Maloofs are Sacramento public enemy #1

  13. Nick Rondeau says:

    AND – Seattle still owns the right to the sonics brand, and history. It doesn’t belong to OKC.

    • Nick Rondeau says:

      Correction – Bennett does own the Sonics name and history, however, has agreed to give it up to any future owners of the Sonics.

      • MRB says:

        Do you think they would keep the colors and jerseys? I would think if a team does go to Seattle, the Sonics would at least get a new jersey…unless they don’t need new ones. Almost forgot what they looked like.

  14. Jacques says:

    It’s a shame for any city to have their team leave for another city but, it’s business. If the city and fans does not support them, it’s not going to be successful Look at the attendance in the past 5 years for this team, always on the bottom 5. I know there are plenty of hardcore Kings fan out there and I do feel sorry for you guys but you got to support your team regardless win or lose. Once they are gone, you realized that you will miss the team. At least California has Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/attendance

  15. batman is robin says:

    I don’t think it will happen, or as you put, maloofs stay maloofs.
    I’m sure its only a heat check, a shock, to check the market, maybe both in seattle and sactown.

    But this rumor made me think about something: who really OWNS a team?
    the owner you might say. they own the franchise, the legal rights, the financial risk, the brand.
    but what about the city, whose local business can build around a pro sports team? and even helps to build an arena. The name of the team contains 50% of the city, that should mean something.
    What about the fans? They build and OWN the culture, how they cheer, watch, consume.
    What about the players/coaches, they own the record, perhaps the championships, as part of THEIR legacy.

    If the league becomes – for money reasons – more like a merry-go-round, what happens to the history of the franchises? Or, in this case, would the new sonics just gain back their teamhistory? What happens to the history of kings/royals? The banners?
    It would only get more complicated if a team with multiple championship-dynasties would move. But it seems like the whole thing stinks (I’m feel in for the kings fans, as I did for the sonics fans back then) – only smaller markets who mostly have never won a ring are in those talks.
    In my opinion, the NBA should be more restrictive with those moves.
    I know, the history of the league has been not far from that. Remembering the ABA, the CBA and many franchises who travelled through the USA and kept their representative franchise names.
    Maybe, just maybe, we should have a systemchange. As example, the europe soccer leagues, they could never MOVE, because they ARE the city. So an owner could not move a team, he can buy it, but has to stay there, or he could sell and leave to another place. If a club has money issues, they can go one level down, and be replaced by the best team from the lower league (this would be the d-league in this scenario).
    Call me crazy, but this would at least stop those heart-breaking, money stinking deals like this.
    Again, it won’t happen. Not yet.

    • Marcus Pearl says:

      I agree with you this is probably being done for the purposes of leverage. I still say the Kings will stay in Sacramento and the Maloof’s will get what they want, a New arena.

      By the way, If the Kings do relocate, than yes, the kings history, name, colors, uniform etc would be left behind in sactown. the Thunder would have to either relinquish the history of the sonics or share it with the new sonics organization

      • Nick Rondeau says:

        But the Maloofs had a chance at a new arena, they screwed the city and backed out at the last second…they’ve done too much damage – they ARE moving, it’s just a matter of when!

      • Mike says:

        No way David Stern is done with the Maloof’s. Sad for Sac fans but if this is agreed on, the second it gets to his desk for approval he signs it.

  16. PC says:

    This is Sad. I live in Seattle. It was sad when the Sonics left. I don’t want any fans in other cities to go through the same pain of what Seattleites felt 4-5 years ago. I hope it doesn’t go through for them.

  17. DatGuy says:

    Sacramento moving to Seattle is not going to change their losing ways unless they change coaches..Scott Brooks did a great job transitioning the Thunder after they moved to OKC.

  18. chris ruona says:

    I saw this coming for yrs Sacramento cannot sell out their games and alot of games in Reno area TV look barely half full. If fans dont show up the team leaves pure and simple. I hope Seattle fans show up or they will lose the team again. Renoruona

  19. Stan says:

    If the Seattle deal happens the Kings will find alot of fans there but not like in Sacramento, where the city really needs this team. In the end it will be about getting alot of cash for an NBA team and make a fat profit. Money will have the final say in any business and the NBA is all about making a profit for the players and the league. Just think in 1980 the Houston Rockets were for sale for $10 million and there were no takers, today you need 30 times that to try and buy an NBA team.

  20. DOC5 says:

    First things first. Thank you Sacramento voters you fail to give your Kings a new arena! Go away Maloofs you swindled enough out of your fans.

    • Josh says:

      We never got a vote, they backed out on the arena deal before it ever got that far. Can’t understand how Seattle is such a mecca of basketball yet they’re original team also left town.

  21. Justin says:

    Sorry but Seattle had roots WAAAAY deeper than Sacramento has in the NBA and the moment the now defending western conference champ OKC got taken from Seattle it was DEVASTATING. We need a NBA team more than any place in the U.S. and i think California can lose one of its FOUR NBA teams and bring back the SEATTLE SUPERSONICS!!!!!!!!!

  22. m3ck3y says:

    This is really really sad.

  23. brad says:

    who really cares the maloofs have already ripped the heart outta Sacramento. i used to drive from Reno, NV through rain sleet and snow to see my favorite team play. while i still have season tickets i have seen one game this year.. i feel the maloofs stopped giving back to “our team” years ago and are compared to what the hawks used to do to only get by. We have had way worse teams in the past with a sold out arena. The maloofs can blame the economy or whatever but the true Kings fans still exist they just check the internet to see how the team is doing !!! Frankly the Maloofs are not worth my gas money anymore..

    • slider821 says:

      There are a ton of kings fans, you can tell by seeing the arena full on a nightly basis, even for non-marquee games. It would be a shame for the Kings to leave Sac.

      That being said, there are lots of cities who don’t care at all about their NBA team. Atlanta strikes me as the least loyal, even during marquee games you see a bunch of empty seats, even seats close to the floor. It’s ugly. Same with the Pistons, however their quality of play warrants that (they used to have some of the best sellout rates in the NBA). NO and Charlotte are pretty bad, but so is their quality of play.

      In a perfect world, Sac would keep the kings and Seattle would get a team, preferrable the Hawks since no one in ATL seems to attend the games.

      • Mike says:

        Really full on a nightly basis? How about last in the NBA in attendance filling only on average of 13,177 seats a night in one of the smallest arena in the NBA. Here is the source btw if you doubt it. http://espn.go.com/nba/attendance

      • jeremy says:

        hey mike sell out 19 years of 27 and most fo those years are because of the maloofs!! just sayin!!

      • Eli Odell J. says:

        yeah, detroits pretty bad, bad team in a city goin downhill fast, kinda sad really
        i never like watchin professional sports in carolina, all the big cities are filled with outta towners, vapid celtic and laker fans, funnily enough thats where most of em are from, charlotte’d get better attendence if more north carolinians lived in charlotte…
        same for the panthers, i understand people can drive but when steeler fans outnumber the local fans it really aint a home game no more, need to kick all them yankees outta town
        course new york and LA in a bad year have pretty bad attendance records, real bad
        i’d say oklahoma gives the best and most consistent support to their team, when they were bad it was sellout, now theyre the cream the crop its still sellout, and theres a lot less people in drivin distance of their arena than there is for them big cities…
        why dont they expand the league a bit? give us a team round here, in birmingham or murfressboro or somethin? memphis’s just too far away