Over the last half dozen years, there has been quite a bit of talk about taking the Kings out of Sacramento. Much of this has been attributed (by people who think they know but don’t) to a decline in the popularity of a team that was never popular to begin with. That is a flat out falsehood, as Kings fans are as avid as they have ever been, and the so-called experts seem to be confusing a deep-seated dislike for the ownership with a lack of support.
Let’s not forget that the Kings averaged a sellout crowd for home games nearly every year from 1985 until 2007 — that’s nearly 22 years of strong local support for a team that was terrible for the majority of that time.
People say Sacramento doesn’t deserve a team because they don’t support them, but I disagree. As a native of Sacramento I know better, there are plenty of cities that have teams they deserve far less than Sacramento deserves the Kings.
Here is a list of my top five:
5. San Diego Padres: As an avid baseball fan — and Giants fan — I obviously keep a sharp eye on the NL West standings. The Padres are so unpopular that I not only forget that they are in the NL West, but I also forget that they even exist. Apparently so does the city of San Diego, since the Padres ranked 29th in popularity in all of Major League Baseball last year.
4. Toronto Blue Jays: Possibly the only thing keeping the Padres from being 30th out of 30 is the fact that they tied for the bottom spot with the Toronto Blue Jays. Why are the Blue Jays so unpopular? Who can really say? They have won a couple championships, and people seemed excited when it happened, but they have been terribly unsupported for a long time. Maybe Canadians just aren’t baseball people — I mean, just ask the Expos.
3. Miami Heat. Sounds like a strange thing to say about the defending NBA champions, right? Before you “die hard” Heat fans dismiss this a heresy, tell me this: what was the starting line-up of the Miami Heat in 2009? If Dwyane Wade is all you can come up with then you are in good company. The Miami Heat really only made it out of the middle of the pack as far as attendance in the 05-07 time period: when they won a title (2006), and after 2010 when LeBron James decided to “bring his talents to South Beach”. Miami is the eighth most populated metro area in the United States, with a population of over 5.5 million. You would think with that many “die hard” fans, they could manage to rank better than 15th in attendance seven times in the last 13 years. Take away the LBJ era and that number drops to four, and between ’02 and ’04 they had a hard time making it into the top 20. Come on Miami, are you fans, or bandwagon jumpers?
2. Charlotte Bobcats: The Charlotte Bobcats have the one draw that could overcome their expansion team status: Michael Jordan. Unfortunately he isn’t playing for them; he owns them and he’s also running them into the ground, one bad decision at a time. The Bobcats average attendance runs at about 80%, compared to the Kings 79%. The difference is that the Bobcats play in a metropolitan area with a population density three times that of Sacramento.
1. Oakland Raiders: Ok wait, don’t kill me. The Raiders are a Bay Area institution, I agree. However, the fact of the matter is that bad leadership making bad decisions has crippled this team and its attendance. There is no arguing with the fact that Oakland runs at or near the bottom of the list when it comes to attendance, despite having a fan base that is described as “fiercely loyal”. The problem is that their fiercely loyal fan base is not large enough to sell out the Coliseum on a weekly basis, causing game blackouts that leave potential fans unable to watch. Say what you wish, but in a city of nearly half a million, the NFL team should sell out regularly. Green Bay, Wisconsin, has a population a third smaller than Oakland, yet they sell out almost weekly. I just think that a team as storied as the Raiders deserve better from “The Town” they call home.