Sam Amick beat me to the punch with his article Kings to Anaheim? Follow the money but I wanted to share a more focused view on the statistics of the two markets to illustrate that although there are presently 7 major professional sports franchises in Southern California, the math suggests Anaheim can support an NBA team.
First of all, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego County are completely different metropolitan areas segregated by horrific traffic and 125 miles. If you look at the same geographic regions in Northern California, San Diego is further from Los Angeles than Sacramento is to San Jose (90 Miles). It will take you just as long to drive from the middle of Orange County to Los Angeles as it would from the middle of Sacramento to San Francisco, I know as I have done both of those commutes, they both suck period.
How many of you would travel from Granite Bay or El Dorado Hills and go to Santa Cruz to go watch your local team play? Not very many and not very often. The same is true in So. Cal. I opened a restaurant in Long Beach and I cannot get my friends from LA to come down or my friends in Orange County to come up because it is too far. It is what it is.
Having season tickets to the Chargers I can attest that getting people to leave at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to drive from Orange County to San Diego so your commute will only be 90 minutes is a tough sell.
Northern California comprises 15M people to Southern California's 22M and there are many sources of how you slice up those populations, by metropolitan area, city, county, etc. I don't want to debate how to calculate them (recommend US Census Bureau) but merely indicate that there are about 10M people in the LA area, 3M in the Orange County area, 3M in the San Diego area, and another 2M East of LA and 2M East of Orange County.
If you slice off LA's population and Pro Sports Teams, you still have almost 10M people that share the Angels, Ducks, Chargers and Padres and alas no NBA team. The Phoenix market with over 4M people shares 4 major pro teams plus other minor pro sports teams not to mention ASU. The Chicago market shares 5 major pro teams with about 10M people and Washington D.C. has 8M that also share 5.
I won't restate the numbers from my earlier piece Will the real Slim Shady...but I commented on the differences between the two markets and they are significant. Additionally, the unemployment rate in Sacramento County is 12.9% v. 9.2% in Orange County and avg. income is $43.8K v. $58.8K. While I know it is harder to buy a home in Orange County there is still a number of factors that suggest there is more discretionary spend available to support the Kings.
Additionally, CNNMoney.com ranked the best cities to live in within California and Orange County has two: Irvine is #22 and Yorba Linda is #38, only Rocklin made the list at #65. There are almost 275K people that comprise those two towns versus only 53K in Rocklin. Long short, more money for consumer spend. It may also explain why there are about 13 major malls in Orange County v. 4 major malls (and no downtown doesn't count).
At first blush a 3rd NBA team in So Cal seems like too many. However, The Lakers are not attainable for most fans wanting to attend an NBA game. With every game sold out and an average ticket price of $107 is not affordable for most fans. Street prices fluctuate between 2X and 3X depending on who they are playing.
This is why the Clippers are in LA. With an average ticket price of $52, they are an affordable option for anyone wanting to watch NBA basketball. Because of the disparity of wealth in LA you have rich and famous people that go to the Lakers' games (in large part) because it is a cool thing to do and you have others that by default go to the Clippers' games because the want to watch NBA basketball and can only afford to support the Clippers.
The Kings are not going to be competing with the Lakers fan base which is all over the country. While there are a percentage of Clippers fan that are based in Orange County or to a lessor extent from San Diego, The Clippers are an LA market team in the same way the Kings don't really compete with the Warriors. Most casual fans in Orange County love the Lakers. However, families that want to take their kids to an NBA game from Orange County are not going to drive to LA, and just like we did when we first were exposed to Arco I & II, those fans will support the local team over time. I am sure there are some Giants fans in Sacramento that like to go to River Cats games for the same reason.
Please take a look at how the three teams are presently valued by Forbes:
The Kings balance sheet needs a major boost in order to survive long term. In conclusion, while I would hate to see the Kings leave Sacramento, I do think the local market can afford to support them. Besides if Sac cannot keep them and the team that moves in and steals fans or market share from the Lakers makes me a big fan.