SBJ/20091130/This Week's News

To focus on Kings, Maloofs fold Monarchs

The need to focus on increasing ticket sales and boosting the bottom line for the flagship Sacramento Kings was a significant reason why the Maloofs folded the WNBA Monarchs.

Just a month into the season, the Kings are drawing an average of 12,458 fans through Nov. 22. While that figure is up 3.4 percent compared with the same period last year, it ranks 28th out of the NBA’s 30 teams and well below the league’s average attendance of 16,968 through Nov. 22.

The Kings are working to offset what was a difficult offseason that in early July saw the team’s season-ticket sales revenue down by a whopping 47.9 percent compared with the 2008-09 season. According to a confidential document obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, the Kings had total season-ticket revenue of $14.3 million as of July 6, 2009, compared with $27.2 million in season-ticket revenue for the 2008-09 season.

Gavin (left) and Joe Maloof, who said sponsor
revenue is rising

While the Kings have had four months to improve those numbers, team co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof said they shuttered their WNBA franchise Nov. 20 in order to dedicate all efforts to the Kings.

“We have decided to focus on the Kings and have all our people selling Kings tickets,” Joe Maloof said, refusing to disclose the team’s current season-ticket base. “Our season-tickets sales are down, but we are making up ground in group and individual sales. Our attendance is starting to come back, and we have room under the cap for next year, so we want to redirect all the energy toward the Kings.”

Maloof said that sponsorship revenue for the Kings is up from last year, but would not disclose specific dollar amounts.

Royal slam
Sacramento Kings total season-ticket revenue as of July 6, 2009:
$14,294,363
Total season-ticket sales revenue 2008-09 season:
$27,207,096
Source: NBA internal document

“Our sponsorship base is up, so that part of our business is growing,” he said. “Our season-ticket base is down and it has been for the past few years, but we are picking it up. We have to find different ways to get people in the arena and get a little smarter with the way we sell.”

The Monarchs, one of the league’s original eight teams, won the 2005 WNBA championship, but saw its 2009 attendance fall 5.3 percent to 7,744 fans a game.

Maloof wouldn’t say how much it cost to run the Monarchs, but it means devoting ticket and corporate sales resources toward the WNBA team instead of solely on the Kings’ business operations.“We’ve been at the Monarchs for more than 10 years and we have made and lost money with it in the past, but one way or another, money wasn’t the big issue,” Maloof said “It is not a financial issue. The issue is we have to refocus our time to the Kings. The Kings are our most important asset, and we are doing better.”

The Monarchs will likely resurface with new owners in the Bay Area. “The Bay Area has been a desirable market for the WNBA, and the availability of the Monarchs provides an opportunity to move a well-known franchise and broaden its fan base within Northern California,” WNBA President Donna Orender said in a statement.

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