Kings Will Soon Leave Sacramento: Who Is to Blame?

Jason ColdironCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2011

LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 13:  (L-R) Brothers George Maloof, Gavin Maloof and Joe Maloof watch a preseason game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Thomas & Mack Center October 13, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lakers won 98-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings might be leaving town soon. Having applied for and received an extension to file for relocation, the team negotiates with Anaheim to determine if they will move there in time for next season. The team now has until April 18th to make the decision.

How did we get to this point and who is to blame? To get to the root of it, let’s examine the factors in play.

Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento (Arco Arena until two days ago) is the oldest non-renovated arena in the NBA. It is not suited to host professional sports of any kind. It is not suitable for NCAA basketball, which no longer plays tournament games here during March madness. It is barely suitable for the Rodeo, Icecapades, the Circus, and major name concerts.

These are the facts. The studies have been done. The Maloof family, the NBA and the City have contributed over $10 million dollars in the last decade doing the necessary research to arrive at these conclusions. The studies conclude that a renovation of the building is not sufficient, as it would cost more to renovate it than to build a new one. A new building is required.

A new sports and entertainment facility has to be built. Plans for that new facility must come together immediately if there is to be any hope of keeping the Kings in town.

Kings ownership, the Maloof family, has been painted as villains by many in the town and community. This is not fair to them.

For over a decade they have worked with Sacramento officials in trying to get an arena built. They have not been perfect and have alienated many in the process. But they have never lied, never engaged in the back-channel, shady behavior that Seattle Supersonics ownership did in hijacking that team out of town. To the contrary, they have worked with Sacramento in trying to get things done. They have done so at their own peril. They have lost money by running the team for at least the last three years. They have never threatened the City, never said, “build us a new arena or we are leaving.” They never demanded money or perks that are not completely reasonable by the standards of professional sports venues all around the country and world. They never threatened to move the team to Las Vegas, where they hold considerable interest.

For years, the Maloofs said nothing but how much they love Sacramento, how great the fans are and how desperately they want to keep the Kings here.

Perhaps the City took them for granted.

Recently, they still have not made threats. All they have done is point out the obvious, that without a new arena the team cannot be profitable and therefore cannot be competitive. Common sense can lead anyone from these facts to the ultimate conclusion on their own.

The Maloofs have every right to move the team out of town. They also have every right to be frustrated with the City, to blame City officials for lack of action and to point the finger elsewhere.

Some opponents of a new building and of the Maloofs may say:

1)      The Maloofs have always wanted to move the team out.

False: They have never said anything like that, nor did their actions ever suggest this during the ten plus years this issue has been going on.

2)      Taxpayers should not have to help build an arena.

False: Yes, the Maloofs make money, but the City benefits much more. Natomas and the Sacramento areas surrounding the current Arco Arena have seen much prosperity as a result of the Kings presence. Restaurants, businesses, and housing have all boomed since the Maloofs got here. The City sees considerable financial benefit from the Kings being here. Why should they not be held responsible through taxes, in part, for the development of a building that will make them money?

3)      Taxpayer money should not go toward a new arena when we have a homeless situation, schools and police departments that need funding and other social needs.

False: The two issues are completely unrelated. Money that would go toward a new arena would never go toward those causes anyway. Simple budget understanding will tell you that in a minute flat.

4)      The economy is too bad for this right now.

False: Yes, the economy sucks right now, but if you take away all the jobs the team brings in, all the money it infuses into the surrounding areas and so on… do you think that will make the City better off or worse financially?

Add to this the fact that negotiations and attempts at building a new arena started long before the current recession and you can see that the current economy is not the issue.

5)      The arena is still functional and does not need to be replaced anyway.

False: Studies and data show that the arena cannot support professional sports any longer. Renovating the building is not an option either, as the studies show that it would cost much less just to build a new building than to renovate the current one.

Fact: If the Kings leave town, the arena will no longer be financially viable (if it even is now) and will be torn down within two years, likely to be replaced by housing.

6)      Nobody in town cares if the team leaves anyway.

False: All over town there are Kings signs in windows of businesses and restaurants. On game nights, every bar in town has the game on and is full of fans wearing gear and cheering like crazy. We fill the arena at least half way every night despite a terrible product on the floor and the most pathetic arena in professional sports.

I don't want the Kings to leave, but I also don't blame the Maloofs one bit. They have bent over backwards to try to keep the team here. At some point, as a business, they have to go. They can't be profitable here without a new arena and that is not going to happen, certainly not in time to prevent the team from leaving. I will miss the Kings more than words can explain, but I understand it.

The Maloofs are not to blame. They have stood by the City much longer than any other owners would have. They can only lose money on the business of running the team for so long before they do something to change the situation. Anyone who runs a business can surely understand this.

It is not the Maloofs fault and it is not the fans fault either. The Kings are leaving soon and the main reason is City leadership over the last 8 years, in particular former Mayor Heather Fargo, who had no interest in keeping the team in town.

All the data you need is out there. Everything you need to understand this issue can be found here and elsewhere on the net’.

There are only two reasons that anyone could say that the Kings leaving town is a good thing or that they could blame the Maloofs for wanting to go.

1)      They don’t know the facts.


2)      They choose to ignore them.