The gravity of the situation is palpable: Our beloved Kings are on the verge of leaving town and everyone is understandably frustrated and several are pointing fingers or expressing anger towards Orange County, The Ownership, The Sacramento Community and The Mayor's Office and his constituents.
When all is said and done, who really is to blame should the Kings leave their latest digs and for greener pastures?
Orange County - You can make a weak case that absent an alternative venue there would be more time and more leverage to keep the Kings in Sacramento at least for another year but the simple reality is this: without an Arco III there will be no more Sacramento Kings. Orange County maybe the destination but they aren't the cause of the problem.
Percentage of blame - 0%
The Ownership - Amazing how 8 years will really sour a love affair. Back in the hey days of Sacramento Kings lore, the Maloofs were the face of the franchise and everyone adored them sitting courtside, giving high fives with their boyish charm. Needle off the record! There is no need to restate the demise of most Kings fans affinity for the Maloofs, but many would argue it stems from a few basic milestones: Not renewing Adelman's contract, handcuffing Petrie on coaching and trade decisions, pushing funding for a new arena to the tax payers and diversifying their interest away from the Kings to new businesses like Maloof Productions and Maloof Money Cup. Certainly there is some culpability here.
If the Maloofs had been more hands off on coaching and player decisions and doubled up their focus and attention on improving the Kings, there likely would be more support for the Kings. They should have brought in some additional capital because their combined net worth is near the bottom of the league and in a small market you need to be rich to build your own arena.
Percentage of blame - 20%
Sacramento Community - Here is where it gets dicey. The basic facts are straight forward. Sacramento tax payers said no to using public money to fund a new arena. Since the ownership could not afford to build their own arena as evidenced by mothballing the Monarchs, the sale of their distributorship, the loans on The Palms coming due, and with the losses each year the Maloofs were incurring operating the Kings, a sale or a move was inevitable.
On top of that, the poor attendance the last few years at the arena is further proof that the community was not supporting the franchise in a sustainable way. Now before you stop reading and blast back with excuses read on. There are mitigating factors that I will address. Still, too little too late as the meager corporate market in the Sacramento Market didn't come forward to work with Civic leaders and most citizens (many of my own friends) were at best apathetic to the situation and certainly weren't committed to driving productive dialogue or a movement to get a new arena done or new capital delivered to the cause. Again more were worried about the burden of an incremental tax increase than what a market without a pro sports identity would do for their local economy.
Percentage of blame - 15%
The Mayor's Office - Other than the gaffes of publically requesting Orange County officials to stop negotiating with the Maloofs over fear of their balloon payment not being paid I have little blame directed at Kevin Johnson. In fact if this was a few other mayors that Sacramento has endured, there would be little public support at all and certainly no activism exhibited like we have witnessed by Kevin.
My only gripe is Kevin must know a few ex-NBA players and corporate ballers given his many years in the league. Where are they? How come his little black book wasn't put to use at a KVIE dial-a-thon to drum up some corporate sponsorship or aggressively incent some companies to move into town and potentially bring additional industry and money into the economy? I feel city officials didn't do enough to think outside the box and although they tried to make the few proposals work, am surprised that Mr. Johnson's sphere of influence didn't bring more heavy hitters.
Percentage of blame - 5%
The Economy & the Sacramento Market - The local economy like most around the country is down right now and with an old venue, a lack of disposable income and a sub-par product Professional Basketball is like those skis in the garage--a nice reminder of some good times but who can afford to make the trip these days? Forbes.com 2010 rankings of most miserable cities (due to economic factors) lists Sacramento as #17, Stockton #2, and Modesto #11. Unemployment, foreclosures and lack of industry are all factors in the ranking. There were no southern California cities in the top 20 list.
Last year there were 57 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in California. 16 in LA County, 7 in Orange County, 2 in San Diego County (not counting the branches of the Military) and 0 in Sacramento County. Most people in Northern California don't appreciate there is a 60 miles that separate LA from OC and OC from San Diego. There is just not enough business nor disposable income to support professional sports in Sacramento without a city or a wealthy private party loaning the money.
If either the local market or the economy was stronger financially the Kings would likely be able to work out a new arena and remain.
Percentage of blame - 60%
So do you agree or disagree my summary?