In very surprising news, a report today indicates that the Kings may propose moving to Virginia Beach, a resort town near the Hamptons in Virginia, to play in a new arena backed by Comcast.
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, Aug. 29, that the Kings will land in Virginia Beach, sources said.
The article goes on to say that the Arena would be financed by a local $1 hotel tax hike and that concert promoter Live Nation (AEG's biggest competitor) is associated with a possible deal. There is also a quote from Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms that says a hotel would be built by owners of the sports team that would come.
None of this makes any sense.
1. Virginia Beach may be the biggest city in Virginia, but it's smaller than Sacramento and a much smaller media market. The Hampton Roads area has approximately 1.6 million people, about half of the Sacramento metropolitan area. Sacramento is also the 19th largest media market in the country, while the Norfolk area is 42nd. (Source)
2. The Maloofs don't have any money to build a new hotel. They might say they do, but actions speak louder than words.
3. The article says the Maloofs own the Palm Hotels. This is false, as they lost most of their stake and now just own 2%.
4. The Maloofs would not announce a move 2 months prior to the season starting, particularly to a city where no arena has been built. Ticket sales would absolutely plummet, boycotts would start, etc.
5. David Stern very recently said that if the Kings wanted to move to Anaheim, they would not be allowed to. That's in one of the biggest media markets in the country, and one with an arena already built.
6. The likely costs of relocation would cost more than the city of Sacramento asked from the Maloofs to build a new arena in Sacramento, which they shot down.
7. About a billion different things need to happen before a team can move. The team must apply to relocate, the Board of Governors needs to approve, a new arena needs to be built, numerous contracts need to be signed. None of this has happened yet.
I could go on, but I don't think I'm going to get super upset over this likely false report. I sincerely doubt that Virginia Beach poses any threat to the future of the Sacramento Kings.
Then again, this is the Maloofs we're talking about. Guess we'll find out August 29th.
UPDATE (10:46 AM):
However, Kings part-owner Joe Maloof rejected the claim. "We haven't talked to Virginia beach," he said.
The statement was echoed by team spokesman Eric Rose: "George said it best, we have been approached by several cities over several years about moving the Kings and we will not comment other than that."
UPDATE (11:25 AM):
NBA spokesman Mike Bass on Kings: "We have no information from the Kings on this matter and there has been no application for relocation."
UPDATE (11:59 AM):
I spoke with the NBA, neither they nor my office has been contacted by the Kings. At this point there is nothing new to report.
UPDATE (1:38 PM):
"The Kings organization over the last several years has been approached by numerous parties and cities interested in buying and relocating the franchise. The franchise is not going to discuss which cities have approached the organization and are not going to comment on every rumor. The sole focus of everyone within the Sacramento Kings organization continues to be to put a winning team on the court as we look forward to what promises to be an exciting 2012-13 NBA season."
UPDATE (1:46 PM):
Comcast Spectacor, through several of our subsidiaries, and Live Nation, both of which have a substantial presence in Southeastern Virginia for many years, are always looking for new opportunities to expand our business in the area. We will refrain from making any comments until we are in Virginia Beach on Tuesday.
At our presentation on Tuesday we will elaborate our collective plans for a new arena. Despite preliminary reports, no specific professional sports team from any league has been identified as the potential tenant for this building.
UPDATE (7:36 PM):
Va Beach Cnclmn Bill DeSteph says he just heard about arena/Kings deal through media- City Mangr told him staff had been exploring 4 mnths— Rob McAllister (@Rob_McAllister) August 24, 2012
Va Beach Cnclmn says his city does not have money for arena. Also believeshis city can't support NBA team. Only 400K thousand live there— Rob McAllister (@Rob_McAllister) August 24, 2012
Va Beach Cnclmn says city never even sells out minor league teams (soccer or hockey) Says "no appetite for hoops"— Rob McAllister (@Rob_McAllister) August 24, 2012
Va Beach Cnclmn says Tuesday's meeting will now be about who knew what when not about building arena.— Rob McAllister (@Rob_McAllister) August 24, 2012