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.