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Despite Terrible Arena, Maloofs Making Money

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Via Kelly Dwyer, Forbes digs into the ledger of all 30 NBA teams. The report breaks down franchise value, revenues, player expenses, and earnings. You'll be... interested to note the Kings franchise has turned a profit for the Maloofs each of the past four years, and seven of the 10 years the family has owned the team.

In 2007, the Maloofs turned a $21 million profit. Forbes notes amortization, taxes and interest on debt (of which the franchise has some) are not included; it's likely the actual profit seen by Maloof Sports & Entertainment is smaller. Still... Sacramento is #8 in operating income. Above them, only Toronto records a smaller overall value while operating at a net profit -- if small market teams were supposed to struggle to stay solvent, no one told the King.

Of course, the arena issue is at the crux of this. If the Maloofs shell out anything substantial for an arena, there goes that positive net operating income until the new place opens... and possibly for a few years after. In a dollar and cents sense, it's impossible not to understand the Maloofs' stance -- they can make money at ARCO until the roof caves in, then go to a free, brand new building in some other town and keep raking in the cash. Of course, sports isn't about dollars and cents, and there are plenty of reasons the Maloofs should continue to work on a solution in Sacramento. (Namely, they'll never find a more gracious fan base. If the Maloofs get an arena in Sacramento with no taxation, they will be heroes for eternity.)

It's impossible not to feel a little slighted seeing these numbers when the Maloofs have been crying wolf a bit about finances the last few years. They've made $41 million in 10 years and the value of their investment has gone up 146% in ten years... never mind all the essentially free advertising for their casino/resort through their connection with the NBA. This team has not made them poor. But at the same time, the brightest times for this sporting town has come because they were willing to spend big to bring in the Webbers and Vlades and Bibbys, and keep them. They anted up to keep Kevin Martin. They almost habitually sit courtside; they do a ton of community work. These are not bad people; the Maloofs have made Sacramento a better place.

This sort of thing will get drudged up by the anti-arena segment, even when the proposal without public funding comes down. Make sure those squawking paint the complete picture.