NBA Rumors: 5 Reasons Why Virginia Beach Is the Right Move for the Kings
However unpopular this deal would be for faithful fans, the Kings should make the move and end the dramatic soap opera which has become of their relationship with the capital city of California.
The Kings franchise finally has an opportunity to acquire a new stadium after months of dead-end negotiations. With relocation comes the opportunity to gain a new identity after floundering on the court for approximately the last decade.
This deal will finally put to rest a tired saga that includes the smearing of a once-beloved ownership group and demonization of a former NBA star and the political face of Sacramento.
Who knows, it may even alter the Kings’ performance on the court.
The OKC Theory
Keeping aside the bitter resentment felt by resident NBA fans of the state of Washington, the move from Seattle to Oklahoma City could not have worked out better for the SuperSonics/Thunder franchise.
Winners of the 2012 Western Conference finals, the Thunder will likely contend for an NBA championship in 2012-13, which the franchise wasn't able to win in Seattle in over 16 years.
Seattle appeared in three NBA Finals since 1967, winning one. Oklahoma City has played host to one NBA Finals appearance so far in four seasons. Although there happened to be a correlation, it is not enough to say that the franchise’s move to OKC was the cause for its on-court success.
The Kings have not been relevant since the 2004-05 season. There is no indication that their play will be substantially better than it was last season when they finished 22-44.
The bulk of the credit for the Thunder’s success goes to their management which had a sound rebuilding method that used the NBA draft advantageously. But the team’s new fanbase deserves credit for an overwhelming amount of support, a benefit that the Kings stand to face in their potential relocation.
Chesapeake Energy Arena is now the new ARCO Arena.
Believe it or not, there was a time when ARCO Arena was the most raucous venue in the NBA and maybe in all of sports.
ARCO was once an intimidating place for opposing teams to play in the early 2000s. When players like Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic and Chris Webber were consistently going deep into the playoffs, fans were breaking decibel meters on a nightly basis.
There are plenty of sports fans in Virginia who have been without a professional franchise in one of the four major sports since the Virginia Squires played in the ABA from 1970-76. The Maloof brothers have an opportunity to tap into a market of fans that will be eager to root for a team they can call their own.
This will potentially lead to more merchandise and tickets sales than they can obtain in the Sacramento market that includes resentful fans who will continue to be bitter about the discussion of leaving the city and the abominable play of its once gloried franchise.
Allure of Virginia
If home to the Kings, Virginia Beach-Norfolk, Va. would classify as the third-smallest television market in the NBA and sixth-smallest in population. That is not much of a downgrade, considering Sacramento also ranks in the top 15 in those categories (10th and ninth respectively).
While Virginia Beach is mainly a tourist attraction, basketball fans throughout the state of Virginia will be thrilled to have an NBA team they can call their own.
Unlike Sacramento, the Maloof Brothers will not have to compete with three California teams in bigger markets to recruit fans to games and free-agent players to sign.
A New ARCO
The Kings’ current home, Power Balance Pavilion, is the oldest arena in the NBA, built in 1987 for $40 million.
The allure that the building once had when it was named ARCO Arena is no longer there. It is no longer filled with loud cowbells and foreign players, but with deflated egos and inexperience on the court.
According to the New York Times, Philadelphia-based company Comcast-Spectacor has proposed a partnership with Virginia Beach to build an arena for 18,000 spectators and begin a 25-year lease. The Maloof brothers must love the prospect of working with a company with experience owning the Wells Fargo Center, home to the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers.
Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has shown support of this move according to the same New York Times report, and Gov. Bob McDonnell has also shown his approval of acquiring a major sports team.
Meanwhile, the Maloof brothers have been engaged with the city of Sacramento for well over a year to obtain a deal for a new arena.
The Maloof brothers and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson reached an agreement on a non-binding term sheet on February 27 that a new $391 million arena would be built in the city’s confines. That deal was reported “dead” by ESPN on April 14.
Since then, USA Today reported that the executive director of a Sacramento committee established by Johnson called Think Big reportedly asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to initiate a federal investigation into the Maloof brothers under allegations that they may have broken “criminal laws.”
Between the indecisiveness of Kings ownership and the bend-but-don’t-break mentality that Johnson has operated under, these two parties have completely soured their relationship.
The differences between the two sides in negotiation are irreconcilable. It is time for the Maloof Brothers to cut ties with this lingering drama and for Johnson to save face and his city’s tax dollars.
The troubling nature of negotiations between the Kings and the city of Sacramento are a debilitating distraction to players hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
These are not your older brothers’ Sacramento Kings—the same team that made nine straight playoff appearances in the late '90s and mid 2000s. They are now are a perennial bottom-dweller in the Western Conference with no signs of returning to the fray anytime soon.
A new culture can be built around a new home city. And with the inevitability of a new identity and a new stadium to go with it, it stands to reason that the revitalization of the Kings could be aided or initiated with its relocation to Virginia Beach.
While the Maloof brothers could focus on rebuilding a competitive team in Sacramento, it is not worth the hassle of rebuilding their relationship with Johnson and rebuilding a new arena in California.