Earlier today, a report was published in the Hamptons Road Business Journal with the headline “Sources: Sacramento Kings may move to Virginia Beach, arena deal in the works.” According to unnamed sources, the Maloofs, who own the Kings, will partner with Comcast to make the move happen. Comcast’s involvement will guarantee a 25-year lease on the stadium, yet to be built, in exchange for naming rights. Let’s take a second to parse the content of the article.
1. First off, this is all attributed to unnamed sources, which, though not without credibility, could easily be people biased in favor of one company or the other. If you’re Live Nation, another rumored partner in the deal, or an official in Virginia Beach, it might be in your interest to make this happen.
2. The arena hasn’t been built yet. It’s realistic, and probably true, that this is all a proposal that’s been written up and is ready to be presented as a formal plan; that doesn’t mean the financing, land, or countless other massive details inherent to creating a sports arena have been figured out yet.
3. For the Maloofs to pull the trigger on this, the move would need to be mostly financed by others, since the Maloofs’ finances are at this point highly questionable. The Hamptons Road Business Journal states that the family owns the Palms Casino in Las Vegas when, in fact, they only have a 2% stake in the property. Back in April, when a proposed deal for a new Sacramento stadium fell through, most of the funding was supposed to come from a lease to a private parking vendor.
4. This arena has been proposed before, and the proposal failed. In that case, there wasn’t an NBA team attached, but obstacles like this — “Virginia Beach Councilman John Baum kicked off a 30-minute session of polite but blunt questioning of Horrow by expressing distaste for major league sports and high-priced athletes. He said Horrow would have trouble convincing him to spend city money on a sports arena.” — would still need to be overcome.
5. Virginia Beach is a smaller market than Sacramento, and it’s a much smaller market than Anaheim, and David Stern already said he wouldn’t let the Kings move to Anaheim. (The ultimate decision is up to a vote by the NBA’s Board of Governors, aka the owners.) And before you shout Oklahoma City at me, remember that SuperSonics were purchased by a group of OKC-based investors before making that move.
7. There might not be an NBA team in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, but there are teams in Washington, D.C., 200 miles away, and Charlotte, North Carolina, 325 miles away — neither of which are doing that well.
8. The Kings would need to remain in the Western Conference, despite playing in a city on the Atlantic Ocean, OR the NBA would need to switch a team from the East to the West.
9. The proposed $1 hike in the local lodging tax probably wouldn’t be enough public money to fund the stadium, and if more public money is needed, then the plan will have a lot more bureaucratic and political bludgeoning to survive before it becomes a reality.
10. The Maloofs own Power Balance Pavilion, where the Kings currently play. So that’s something to keep in mind.
Anyway, at this point, I’d say that the deal will probably be suggested with some degree of formality — even that might not happen — but doesn’t have much a chance of coming to fruition. If Stern and the league do in fact allow the Kings to move, they’d rather have them somewhere like Seattle, and if he allows them to move to Virginia Beach, a lot of money needs to appear before the stadium can even begin to be built. That stadium 100% needs to be a guarantee — with a construction schedule and all that good stuff — before a move could be finalized.