Kings Staying Put for Now, But Arena Is Key to Future

Sacramento will hold onto the Kings for one more season, but its chances of keeping them long term rest solely on the city’s ability to approve, finance and build a new arena — a goal the city has failed to meet many times in the last decade.
The Maloof family, which owns a controlling interest in the Kings, announced Monday that it would not apply for relocation, as it had been preparing to do. The Maloofs had negotiated a deal to move the Kings to Anaheim, where they would have shared the Honda Center with the Ducks.

“Out of respect to Kings fans and the regional business community, we have decided to remain in Sacramento for the 2011-12 season,” the family said in a statement.

The Maloofs’ announcement, which was greeted with relief and elation by Kings fans, came with a heavy caveat. If city and regional leaders cannot complete plans for a new arena “in a timely fashion,” then the team will move before the 2012-13 season, with the support of N.B.A. owners. The league’s relocation committee, a subset of other team owners, has signaled it will approve the relocation under those circumstances.

“I would tell you that the Maloofs will have a lot of support for wherever they choose to go,” Commissioner David Stern said in a conference call.

The Maloofs had until Monday to apply for relocation for the 2011-12 season.

Although Los Angeles is already home to the Lakers and the Clippers, Stern indicated that Anaheim — 30 miles away — was a viable home for a third franchise.

The decision to stay is a victory for Kings fans, who rallied support for the team over the last few months, and for Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former N.B.A. guard, who secured $10 million in sponsorships from local businesses to demonstrate the city’s commitment.

Johnson also made what Stern described as “a very good presentation” to N.B.A. owners last month, in which he laid out a plan for increased sponsorships, ticket sales and a regional effort to build a sports and entertainment complex.

The Kings play at Power Balance Pavilion, formerly known as Arco Arena, which was built in 1988. It is one of the league’s oldest buildings and lacks the level of luxury suites and other amenities that an N.B.A. team needs to remain competitive, especially in a small market.

By the team’s count, 11 proposals to build a new arena have failed over the last 11 years. Even as they announced their decision, the Maloofs expressed skepticism that something would get done by the March 1, 2012 deadline.

Stern sounded hopeful about the Kings staying in Sacramento at a new arena. But given the history, he said, “I think it would be fair for many of the people on this call to be skeptical about whether or not there will finally be a successful path.”

PLAYOFF RATINGS ARE UP Television viewership for the playoffs is up nearly a third from last season. First-round games on ABC, ESPN and TNT were watched by an average of 4.15 million people, up from fewer than 3.2 million last year. To this point of the playoffs, TNT has drawn the highest average rating ever for games on cable. ESPN’s first-round ratings were the highest since it began televising the playoffs in 2003, and ABC’s were the best since 2004. (AP)

PLAYER’S WIFE CHARGED Authorities said the estranged wife of Golden State guard Charlie Bell was charged with assaulting him with a box cutter at his home near Flint, Mich. Kenya Bell, Bell’s wife, faces charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence. Bell sustained minor injuries. (AP)

0 comment: