NBA Rumors: Kings Would Be Insane to Move to Virginia Beach over Seattle
On paper, Seattle seems like the perfect fit.
The city just lost the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008, a franchise that won the 1979 NBA championship and is in one of the wealthiest metropolitan areas (via ABC News) in the United States. If there is any city without an NBA team that could still support one, it's Seattle.
So with the Kings all but certainly on the move, the city's overzealous fanbase and rich basketball history has to make it the overwhelming favorite, right?
According to a report by the Philip Newswanger and Bill Cresenzo of the Hampton Roads Business Journal, the Kings' most likely destination is now Virginia Beach. Though that may seem like a shocker at first, media conglomerate Comcast is playing a large role behind the scenes and may have enough capital to pull off the move.
Via Hampton Roads Business Journal:
Media giant Comcast will guarantee a 25-year lease on a new arena, supposedly for naming rights and for broadcasting the games, sources said. Comcast owns NBC and Global Spectrum, which operates arenas and stadiums across the country including the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University.
If the Kings wind up in Virginia Beach, it would be almost as large of a travesty for Seattle (and NBA fans) as the original franchise's move to OKC.
Where Seattle was once a middling sports town that (understandably) refused to pay for a new arena, the four years since the creation of the Thunder have been one of a reputation renaissance.
Where would you like to see the Kings relocate?
Seattle's Major League Soccer team, the Sounders, has led the league in attendance every year since the franchise's inception in 2009. The Seattle fans are widely regarded as loyal fans that are as knowledgeable about the game as they are passionate.
But the Sounders aren't the Sonics.
That's why, with a new arena in Seattle looking more likely than ever, over 4,000 fans descended upon downtown for a "Bring Back the Sonics" rally in June (via ESPN).
At the head of the rally? Hedge fund manager Chris R. Hansen.
Armed with a group of wealthy investors, including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Peter and Erik Nordstrom, Hansen is currently at the head of a group trying to bring a new arena to the city. Offering $290 million in private investments, the Valiant Capital founder's group is asking just $200 million from King County and the city of Seattle (via ESPN).
In today's market, that's a paltry sum.
If all things are equal in the checkbook and arena department, if the Maloofs sell the Kings to the Virginia Beach group over the Hansen-led one, it would be doing the league a massive disservice.
The Maloofs would force the franchise to a touristy area not ripe with long-term residents or a storied passion for the NBA.
Seattle now has the passion, the financial wherewithal and rich history to make the city a perfect home for the soon-to-be-departed Kings.
A move to Virginia Beach strips that opportunity for Sonics fans and fans of the NBA, period.
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