Kings Abandoning Sacramento?
A local Virginia business website and other sources are reporting the Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings and officials from Comcast are expected to be in Virginia Beach , VA Tuesday to propose moving the team to the resort city and for media consolidator Comcast to build and lease the team a new stadium.
A deal between the Maloofs and the city of Sacramento for a new $391 million entertainment complex clanked in May and the family has been looking for what they perceive as greener pastures since.
Comcast will guarantee a 25-year lease on a new arena, supposedly for naming rights and for broadcasting the games, sources said.
Virginia Beach is the easternmost city of the Hampton Roads area of the state, with a local population of around 700,000.
The Kings have played at Sacramento’s Power Balance Pavilion (formerly known as ARCO Arena) since 1985.
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson and a local organization called Think Big had been negotiating with the Maloofs, but it had been widely reported that the talks were frustrating and non-productive.
Click below to see the story as reported by the Hampton Road Business Journal
By Philip Newswanger and Bill Cresenzo
The owners of the Sacramento Kings, an NBA franchise, and officials from Philadelphia-based Comcast-Spectacor are expected to be in Virginia Beach Tuesday to propose moving the team to the resort city and for Comcast to help build and lease a new pro sports arena.
A deal between the Maloof family, which owns the Sacramento Kings, and the city of Sacramento for a $391 million entertainment complex fell apart three months ago and it has been reported that the owners are looking for a city for their franchise.
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.
City officials and the Maloof family are expected to announce Wednesday that the Kings will land in Virginia Beach, sources said.
Virginia Beach-based Meridian Group, a marketing communications firm, is expected to handle the public relations for the announcement.
To finance the arena, the Virginia Beach Hotel-Motel Association has indicated it would support a $1 hike in the lodging tax, sources said.
In addition, the Atlantic Coast Conference has agreed to place Virginia Beach on its list as a future venue for college ACC conference tournaments.
A well-known concert promoter – Live Nation – is associated with the deal for the new arena and the team’s relocation to Virginia Beach, sources say.
The new arena will be built across from the Virginia Beach Convention Center, adjacent to the former Norfolk Southern Corp. rail track and a proposed site for a light rail station.
“Comcast, Live Nation and Global Spectrum have come to the city,” Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said last week. “They would guarantee us a professional sports team” if the deal goes through.
He said the arena would draw people to the area year-round. He would not confirm what team could move to the area, but said that in a related project, a multi-star convention center hotel, “would probably be built by owners of the team.”
“I think the greatest thing coming out of this is that Comcast and Live Nation are for real,” Sessoms said.
Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento and a former NBA standout, has tried to keep the Kings in his city. The Maloofs have said they no longer trust Johnson and don’t want to work with him, according to ESPN in April, prior to the deal collapsing.
“You can’t do a deal with somebody you don’t trust,” George Maloof Jr. said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “I don’t trust him.”
Maloof said last week, “We have been approached by several cities over several years about moving the Kings and we will not comment other than that.”
Amid negotiations over the new entertainment complex in Sacramento, elected officials representing the city criticized the Maloofs, saying they’ve turned their backs on the city late in the game, the ESPN article said.
Chris Lehane, executive director of Think Big, the committee formed by Johnson to retain the Kings, compared dealing with the Maloofs to dealing with one of the world’s most inscrutable and widely criticized governments. Lehane, who stepped down from his position in June, at one point, asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the Maloof brothers, according to a USA Today report.
Eric W. Rose, the Maloofs’ spokesman, said: “It is becoming clearer that the foundation of Think Big is built on fabrication and deception. The name of the organization should be changed to Think Big Fraud,” the USA Today article said.
The Kings’ standing in the western conference was the second worst behind the New Orleans Hornets for the 2011-2012 season.
The Kings have played at the Power Balance Pavilion, the Kings’ home since 1985, formerly known as ARCO Arena.
But the Maloof family has complained that the arena wasn’t suitable and demanded a new entertainment complex from Sacramento. The proposed city-owned complex would have been funded mostly by issuing a parking lease to a private vendor. Anschutz Entertainment Group would have been the operator.
The Maloof family also owns the Palms Casino in Las Vegas and other hotels as well as Maloof Productions and Maloof Music.
Hampton Roads has sought professional league sports in the past including major league baseball, hockey and the NBA. In the late 1990s, Norfolk almost became home to a National League Hockey team, but the expansion team ended up in Raleigh.
George Shinn, the owner behind the hockey league team, also considered Norfolk as a site for the Charlotte Hornets in 2002.
The team ended up in New Orleans.[/showhide]
Sacramento Kings fans – what are your thoughts on this recent development?
Update: In an emailed statement to The Sacramento Bee, Maloof spokesman Eric Rose wrote: “The Kings have been approached by numerous cities interested in buying the team and relocating it. We are not going to discuss which cities have approached the team and are not going to comment on every rumor. I can tell you that the Kings are 100% focused on putting a winning team on the court.”
Mike Bass of the NBA says the NBA “has no information from the Kings on this matter, and there has been no application from the Kings for relocation.” [source http://blogs.sacbee.com]