SBD/Issue 36/Franchises

Maloofs Openly Discussing Possibility That Kings Could Move

Maloofs Hopeful Of Kings Staying In Sacramento,
But Will Listen To Alternatives From Other Cities

NBA Kings Owners the Maloofs continue to "profess their loyalty to Sacramento and its fans ... despite an aging facility at Arco and several years of lean attendance," but for the first time they are "talking openly about their willingness to consider alternatives," according to Dale Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Kings co-Owner Joe Maloof: "I think any smart businessman has to look at options." Maloof added that the Kings "have been courted occasionally by cities such as" Las Vegas, Seattle, Anaheim, San Jose and K.C. He said that those inquiries "represented nothing more than 'a five-minute conversation' but the family is frustrated over the failure to get a deal" for a new arena done in Sacramento. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has "championed a communitywide effort to build an arena." The leading proposal "involved a land swap that called for redeveloping Cal Expo," but when the state agency that runs Cal Expo "objected, the plan collapsed." Maloof said, "Sooner or later, there has to be an option -- everybody knows that." Johnson is "trying to cobble together a new plan," and he "especially wants to talk with Inland American Real Estate, the firm that just took over redevelopment of the downtown railyard." Inland has said that it is "willing to discuss a new arena." Meanwhile, Arco's sponsorship of the team's arena is set to expire "next spring," which "symbolizes the uncertainty facing" the Kings. Kasler noted Joe and co-Owner Gavin Maloof "have been fixtures at Arco, leading the cheers from their courtside seats and reveling in the attention that ownership brings." But they "aren't governed completely by sentiment." Last year they folded the WNBA Monarchs and "imposed layoffs for the first time throughout the Maloof Sports & Entertainment organization." The Kings' average attendance last year was 13,254, "next-to-last in the NBA." But Kings officials said that the arena "will be full or nearly full" for tonight's game against the Raptors and Wednesday's game against the Lakers. Joe Maloof: "The most important thing we have on our plate right now is to try and get people back into the arena" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/30).

SNOWBALL'S CHANCE? In Minneapolis, Jerry Zgoda wonders if T'Wolves fans "have a prayer that their snowbound, small-market franchise can ever compete" with a team like the Heat that in Fs LeBron James and Chris Bosh and G Dwyane Wade has "such superstar power concentrated in one place." NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "It takes time. Hold management accountable. They've got the draft picks. Maybe Ricky (Rubio) will come someday. The deal here is the draft rewards teams for bad performance and then you get a chance to correct yourself and then there's free agency." Stern added of James, Bosh and Wade all playing for the same team, "The idea that this is a terrible thing that these players colluded to go somewhere ... they didn't collude anything. They decided to use their free agency here to try and win. They may or may not" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/1).

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