Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Virginia Beach has popped back up with reports suggesting a Maloof representative has met with the governor of Virginia. But ... really? Virginia Beach?
There are a million different ways to read the news that a representative of the Sacramento Kings has recently met with the governor of Virginia to discuss the idea of building a new arena in Virginia Beach and moving the team there. One clue from the report is that the city of Virginia Beach is absolutely terrible at preventing leaks. (The affirmation that the Kings are the team involved comes from someone sitting in on a meeting of city department heads where the Governor's meeting was discussed.) The Maloofs, if they are seriously pursuing this and not just using Virginia Beach as leverage in Sacramento, Anaheim, Seattle and everywhere, cannot be pleased with the leaks. And that canned statement about "hearing from" lots of cities and not responding to rumors got old the first time they trotted it out. It's not getting any more acceptable. Sending someone across the country to meet with a Governor is not "hearing from" a city.
Wally (who I trust on this issues more than just about anyone) mentioned in yesterday's thread that you could make three different sensible arguments about what this means. He's right. We don't know what's going on. It could be benign, it could be malignant. But the feeling I keep coming back to is that it shows some level of desperation, whether it's benign or malignant. I mean, Virginia Beach. I'm not saying it's a bad market, I'm not saying it'd be a terrible deal. But for a family seemingly set on maintaining personal fame? It's a long way from Hollywood. It's a long way from the nearest red carpet. But for a family seeking another major payday, and years of high profits? No offense to the Sixers, Wizards and Bobcats ... but the mid-Atlantic hasn't exactly been the NBA's Wall Street, you know? If profits over the long-term and increased valuation are the targets, Anaheim is the destination. If you're the Maloofs, you figure out how to afford to get there -- you don't blow your relocation ammo on Virginia Beach.
Seattle's out because Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer want to buy, not lease, a team. The Emerald City is clearly the league's best open market, but it's off the table for the Maloofs. That's got to burn, right? We know Anaheim would be incredibly expensive up front, due to the Lakers' and Clippers' purported demand for compensation for territorial encroachment. But Anaheim is probably the most lucrative potential market for the team long-term. (Probably.) But the Maloofs are sending someone to talk to Virginia Beach. I really do have trouble reading that as anything other than desperation.
I want nothing more than for the Kings to stay in Sacramento. But in no way should this news about Virginia Beach lead the city to come crawling back to the Maloofs with concessions or public money for a Sleep Train Arena retrofit. Because Virginia Beach is a long ways away. Public polling in Virginia Beach has been decidedly mixed, and I imagine that for the rest of the state, it's more negative. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell can't run for re-election -- that state prohibits consecutive terms for its governors -- but he almost assuredly has aims up the ladder, potentially for U.S. Senate. He's a Republican, and spending public funds for a private project might not be politically appetizing. In addition, the city's own council seemed mixed on the project (though it's easy to get wound up and excited about such things when they start rolling).
Virginia Beach remains a ways off, but the fact that instead of engaging Sacramento the Maloofs are flirting with similar markets, to me, shows desperation. I can only hope that if the desperation is well-founded then the NBA demands that Sacramento buyers be given the first crack at the club. I don't think anyone mentioned as a Sacramento savior wants to have a bidding war with Chris Hansen. So our efforts to convince NBA owners that the league belongs in Sacramento is more important than ever. #HereWeStayNBA