Sacramento Continues Fight To Keep the Kings

February 9, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings fans hold up signs against the Maloof

Sacramento may have found some solace with the news of the NBA relocation committee’s unanimous 7-0 vote against moving the team to Seattle. Recently, the Seattle media has created a circus surrounding the major setback.

Sacramento’s group only continued to strengthen their bid by placing 50 percent of their offering price of $341 million in an escrow account Friday. Head investor Vivek Ranadive had said early in the week he had planned do make the deposit as a sign to the Maloof family of his complete financial stability and interest in the team.

The deal, however, is far from done for Sacramento. The city of Sacramento faces several more hurdles beginning with the next major vote at the NBA Board of Governors meeting May 15th. Ranadive has said he wold like to have a completed back-up deal in place with the Maloof family in time for the May 15th meeting; which simply put will avoid any more drama and delays in the seemingly never ending relocation saga in Sacramento.

Friday brought forth a lawsuit from the Coalition for Responsible Arena Development, stating that Sacramento city officials have refused to disclose public information pertaining to the development of the arena as well as the public subsidies. The Coalition claims that the owners and developers of the new arena would gain approximately $58 million in parking revenue over the coarse of thirty years from parking spaces located directly under the proposed arena site.

However, the Coalition has several flaws in its lawsuit, starting directly with its estimated value of the parking spaces. The development of the arena would mean that a large majority of those spaces located under the current downtown plaza will be eliminated due to their location. A new arena would force developers to remove anywhere from 65-75 percent of the parking in question. With the removal of these parking structures, the city has said in the development plan that they will need to renovate the remaining underground parking structures; a process in which the new arena developer will play a major financial role.

The next issue is simple; if the current investment team funds the renovation of these parking structures, they have just as much of a right to gain financially from them as the city of Sacramento. Sacramento hasn’t stated that they would simply relinquish the rights of the publicly owned parking structures to the Sacramento Kings investment group, but would in fact stand to gain financially from the renovation.

The Sacramento Coalition has failed in its attempts to determine what type of revenue would be generated from the city owned parking as well as the revenue a new arena would generate for the city of Sacramento. When baseball fans attend a San Francisco Giants game, they travel from all around California to enjoy a day in the city of San Francisco as well as going to a ball game.

Apr 05, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; General view of the Sleep Train Arena before the game between the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento would hope an arena in the center of their city would generate similar results. Most would agree that the downtown location of the proposed arena would indeed help to energize and potentially help lead to a resurgence in the City of Sacramento. Businesses from hotels and apartments, to restaurants, bars and music venues, to corner stores and boutiques would all see major results as well as improved business.

With all the media attention surrounding the future of the Sacramento Kings franchise, the Seattle-based investment group as well as Seattle media and fans have all seemed to make a spectacle of the NBA’s recommendation that the Kings stay in Sacramento. The Seattle investment group has stated that it has no intention of giving up on its efforts to obtain an NBA franchise. While the Seattle investment group has remained firm on its stance that it will continue to fight for the team until the bitter end, so has Sacramento and its investment team.

The owners around the league have to credit a city that has always remained faith-full even throughout this heart wrenching relocation saga. If the NBA condoned the relocation of the team it sends the message that the NBA doesn’t care about fan support, television ratings or support from almost every local political member who has a say in the team staying in Sacramento. The NBA is also not going to remove a franchise that has made money in 19 of the 28 seasons it has been in Sacramento.

Seattle fans have only made things worse as they have turned from overly excited over the opportunity of stealing a franchise (essentially attempting to do what Oklahoma City did to them), to becoming overly aggressive and overly negative towards both Sacramento and the NBA. Seattle fans know all to well the pain and heart break that goes along with losing their beloved franchise to relocation. However, despite what the media has tried to tell you about these two small market cities, the facts are clear and easy to distinguish. The Seattle fan base had several problems with attendance for almost a decade prior to the teams relocation. Sacramento has always been known for its fan base and the support of its city.

What truly makes a franchise valuable is the fan base and the support of its city. Seattle struggled to maintain a fan base and failed to find support from its city and its politicians. Seattle failed to find investors to keep the team before Clay Bennett purchased the team, and moved them to Oklahoma. Sacramento has provided what some could call a blue print for the type of support from a city, its politicians, its investors and its fan base that is needed to keep its franchise from relocation.

What becomes almost the proverbial cherry on top is that the Kings are Sacramento’s only professional franchise. While the River Cats are the Oakland A’s Triple A farm team, they are hardly considered competition for the Kings franchise. Seattle has far more professional teams to speak of, and creates several obvious problems with generating attendance. The Kings have only struggled with attendance since the Maloof’s announced the most recent sale of the team.

Jan 23, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson court side during the first quarter of the Sacramento Kings game against the Phoenix Suns at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has been almost glued to David Stern’s hip during the process, as Johnson has shown he is not only willing to anything necessary to keep the Kings in Sacramento. Johnson has also been openly willing to take any and all the assistance the NBA has offered. Johnson has established a very clear willingness to work with the NBA at any lengths to assure the Kings’ longevity in Sacramento.

When NBA Commissioner David Stern attempted to assist former Seattle Mayor Gregory J. Nickels in developing a new arena, and essentially attempted to solidify the Sonics place in Seattle, the mayor denied the Commissioners assistance and almost single-handedly signed away the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

The Sacramento politicians as well as investors with ties to the city and the NBA have made a plan to buy the team in what some would consider an unorthodox amount of time. However, the city of Sacramento has met all the NBA’s criteria, and continues to jump through every hoop and over any hurdle they face. The Seattle fans and owners would be wise not to overreact to the NBA’s decision to recommend that the Kings stay in Sacramento. While David Stern has made it clear he does not want to move the Kings out of Sacramento, he has also made it very clear that he wants to return basketball to Seattle.

Even with Stern’s desire to bring basketball back to Seattle, an expansion team creates too many issues for the league. The NBA currently has 30 teams, 15 in the Western Conference and 15 in the Eastern Conference. Each Conference consists of three divisions of five teams. Only 8 of 15 teams from each Conference make the playoffs. If an expansion team entered the mix it would create an uneven amount of teams for one Conference. The Division the team ended up in would also become the largest Division in the league. The NBA cannot afford to add six expansion teams, therefore a single expansion team becomes ever more of a stretch. How would you re-create a fair bracketing system for the playoffs, what division within the Conference would be effected? These are only minor examples of the problems created by a single expansion team.

So while the city of Sacramento may have slept a little easier over the last few days, Sacramento still has a lot of work to do, and Seattle has only grown more intent on finding a way to bring basketball back to Seattle.

Keep the faith Kings fans, it seems our city is growing stronger with our continued efforts to keep our Kings.

Topics: Kevin Johnson, Maloofs, Sacramento Kings, Seattle, Viveck Ranadive

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  • GreenShooter

    Sacramento has been at the bottom of attendance for the last 6 years. Take off the blinders and speak facts. Your article was full of errors.

    • dustin

      LMAO right?!?! It is just amazing that they would want to keep a team in a city on the decline, rather than go to a city with a great economy and many corporate businesses. The NBA will regret this decision one day. Everyone in the country would rather want the Sonics in the league rather than the Kings..

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003341005217 Steve Jones

        Both Wrong. Attendance was at sell out levels until the Maloofs backed out of the Arena Election propositions. Immediately after that they started looking for another city to move to. Sometime in between, the Maloofs backed out of another atena deal. 2 arena deal backouts + anaheim, vegas, virginia beach, seattle = disgtuntled fan base. Everyone outside Seattle gets this, thats why Kings stay….

        • KtownMatt

          research your facts. Sacramento has been in the bottom 4 in attendance since 2008 when the Sonics left for OKC, but we weren’t given any loans or extensions, our team was sold to Bennett without considering local buyers which there was a group, because Schultz was offered a ridiculous sum of money from the OKC group, who only got the team because they stated they would make best efforts to keep the team in SEattle, which we all know now as a complete lie.

      • Leatherneck44

        You are, rightly or wrongly, portraying yourselves as a bunch of elitists! If Seattle was the Garden of Eden for the NBA, then why did they leave? And don’t patronize me about Bennett lying. Seattle knew what the NBA wanted them to do and collectively the state of Washington told the NBA to kick rocks! The NBA called their bet!

  • Leatherneck44

    Which facts about attendance do you question? The one about the Sonics or the Kings! Facts about the Sonics attendance is accurate. And the Kings after years of the Maloofs BS have drawn better numbers than the Sonics did! Without question there is more corporate money in Seattle but, spread out over multiple franchises. Businesses in SAC only have to sponsor one team. If I was the NBA I would and have enjoyed being the big fish in the pond; rather than the smallest fish in the pond.

  • Guest

    Sacramento has only been at the bottom of attendance this year. This also coincides with The Maloof families announcement to sell the Team. Sacramento has documented proof of being one of having one of the best, if not the best fan bases in the NBA. The Sonics had the worse attendance in the league for almost a decade before the team was relocated. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis both left because of the lack of stability in management as well as the poor fan base. Not to mention the fact the team they had fallen apart as quickly as Shawn Kemp’s career. The FACTS are everywhere, but this ones says it all: THIER IS NO TEAM IN SEATTLE! The Sonics don’t exist anymore due largely in part of a lack of Fan and city support. Former Seattle Mayor Nickels can be blamed with the rest of Washington for the Sonics departure. So i doubt the NBA will regret keeping the 20th largest television market in sports. Keep reading! I hope the Seattle Fans get a team someday! Just not the Kings!

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.gillis.908 Robert Gillis

    Sacramento has only been at the bottom of attendance this year. This also coincides with The Maloof families announcement to sell the Team. Sacramento has documented proof of being one of the best, if not the best fan base in the NBA. The Sonics had the worse attendance in the league for almost a decade before the team was relocated. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis both left because of the lack of stability in management as well as the poor fan base. Not to mention the fact the team they had fallen apart as quickly as Shawn Kemp’s career. The FACTS are everywhere, but this ones says it all: THIER IS NO TEAM IN SEATTLE! The Sonics don’t exist anymore due largely in part of a lack of Fan and city support. Former Seattle Mayor Nickels can be blamed with the rest of Washington for the Sonics departure. So i doubt the NBA will regret keeping the 20th largest television market in sports. Keep reading! I hope the Seattle Fans get a team someday! Just not the Kings!

    • KtownMatt

      Wrong Robert:
      Sacramento: since 2008
      2008 27th
      2009 30th 13.5K/game
      2010 29th 13.2K
      2011 29th 13.8K
      2012 27th 14.5K
      2013 30th 13.7K
      Sonics only finished in the last four their last year in Seattle, which we all know was a lame duck year for sure.

      • http://www.facebook.com/robert.gillis.908 Robert Gillis

        These numbers are very inaccurate & they only convey an overall number of tickets sold rather than a percentage, which places Sacramento 14th this year alone. The numbers convey a total amount of tickets sold, but the way you make money is by selling as close to all the tickets you can. Sacramento has a smaller arena, which in turn means that they have to sell less tickets to make an annual profit. the Kings rank 14th in the NBA in the 2013 season for average tickets sold! Twist the numbers anyway you want, Sacramento’s
        fans and numbers are far superior to Seattle’s

  • Brian

    Seattle had Coach Smart if you remember correctly. Sacramento had Coach Smart as well. As much as I wanted to see the 2/2 for one coach losing teams, it’s not going to happen. Attendance is always going to suffer for bad teams. Seattle, you haven’t made a serious play off run since Kemp. Sacramento since Bibby and Webber.

  • KtownMatt

    very much like what
    happened with Clay Bennett and his lame duck seasons as an owner of the
    franchise. He dismantled the team, cut marketing in the city and was already
    making back room deals in OKC. As the mountain of evidence has clearly shown
    over the last few years. Our Government should’ve done more for sure, but we
    did have investor groups locally that would’ve bought the team (minority owners in fact, but Schwartz decided to go with Bennett’s group as the suggestion of David Stern, so unlike Sacramento who was given loans and extension after extension, we were stuck with a cruddy product yet, we still weren’t last in the NBA unlike Sacramento the last 6 years and we’re going to have smaller attendance stats because our arena was smaller. Very one sided and under researched article.

    Also, lets look at the attendance for the Kings over the last 6 years,
    including your lame duck season this year and even last. Sacramento was 30th
    twice, 29th twice and 27th twice. the last 5 years you’ve averaged 13.7K a
    game. The Sonics only had that low of attendance one season and it was the last season when we knew they were on their way out with a crappy owner. So don’t tell us fans in Seattle that we didn’t support our team, because we did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.gillis.908 Robert Gillis

    Ok, So here are your stats, Seattle failed to sell out seasons even one time during their drama involving the Sonics, and only 4 times since 1987. We are talking about a KIngs team that since 1987 has recorded 19 sellout seasons. LOOK IT UP ANYWHERE! ITS A FACT. Seattle has only done that 4 times since 1987 in comparison to Sacramento. 19-4 seems pretty clear cut. Even with lower attendance numbers in recent years, the MAloofs have dragged this out for six years. And attendance is something based on percentages, not the total seats sold. So your attendance numbers are very flawed at best. Sacramento has one of the smallest arenas in the NBA. So this year alone, by percentages of tickets sold versus tickets available, the kings are number 14th in the league. The Alamo Dome in San Antonio holds almost 30,000 people, versus the 17,500 in Sacramento. So while our market is smaller, the fan base from a percentage standpoint is far better. The tickets sold compared to the tickets the are not sold are clearly in Sacramento’s favor. The Seattle fans clearly cant even compare with the Sacramento fan base. The NBA agrees with the numbers, and they all point to Sacramento being the better city for the team. Clay Bennett only was able to accomplish moving the team after SEATTLE MAYOR GREGORY NICKELS said he didnt want or need help from the NBA. If Nickels takes sterns offer to build a new arena in Seattle, Bennett wouldn’t have had the opportunity to move the team.

    1985-86 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 48%, Kings 100%
    1986-87 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 50%, Kings 100%
    1987-88 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 69%, Kings 100%
    1988-89 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 74%, Kings 100%
    1989-90 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 70%, Kings 100%
    1990-91 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 71%, Kings 100%
    1991-92 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 82%, Kings 100%
    1992-93 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 89%, Kings 100%
    1993-94 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 85%, Kings 100%
    1994-95 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 90%, Kings 100%
    1995-96 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 100%, Kings 100%
    1996-97 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 100%, Kings 100%
    1997-98 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 100%, Kings 85%
    1998-99 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 100%, Kings 96%
    1999-00 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 87%, Kings 100%
    2000-01 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 91%, Kings 100%
    2001-02 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 90%, Kings 100%
    2002-03 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 91%, Kings 100%
    2003-04 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 89%, Kings 100%
    2004-05 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 96%, Kings 100%
    2005-06 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 94%, Kings 100%
    2006-07 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 93%, Kings 100%
    2007-08 Percentage of Seats Sold: Sonics 79%, Kings 81%

    79% versus 81% in the worst season is as close to competing with the Sacramento fans Seattle will ever come. Its sad because its clear that Seattle is a good city for basketball, but Sacramento is better. The Fans in Seattle have only themselves and their city officials to blame. Bennett only received David Sterns approval once Seattle MAYOR Nickels turned Stern away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.gillis.908 Robert Gillis

    Sacramento out sold Seattle with regards to percentage of tickets sold 21 years straight!