Kings Minority Owners Want To See Team Remain In Sacramento
Bob Cook and Joe Benvenuti, who together hold a 25% stake in the NBA Kings, yesterday said that they "adamantly oppose moving the team out of Sacramento," but acknowledged that as minority owners they "may have little say in whether the team stays or goes," according to Bizjak & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Benvenuti: "I don't want 'em to move, but there isn't much I can do about it." Cook said that he "called Gavin Maloof, whose family holds a controlling interest, two weeks ago after hearing rumors the Maloofs were negotiating with representatives at the city-owned Honda Center in Anaheim." Cook said, "I can understand the frustrations of our majority owners. We need a multipurpose facility (in Sacramento to replace the current Natomas arena), and we haven't got anything done. ... I've got my fingers crossed the Kings stay in Sacramento." A third minority owner, Dave Lucchetti, said that he "also wants the team to stay." California state Assemblyman Chris Norby, who represents Anaheim, said that city officials there "have indicated they have no plans to put up money to get the Kings to move" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/24). In L.A., Mike Bresnahan notes neither the Lakers nor the Clippers "want to split their lucrative corner of the NBA pie with another Southern California tenant." Both L.A. teams "would get a small share of a relocation fee paid by the Kings' owners, but it wouldn't be as financially sound as maintaining an absolute grip on sales of pro basketball tickets and merchandise in the region." Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that Sacramento "seems like a perfect place for the Kings." Jackson: "I think we'd like to see them stay there" (L.A. TIMES, 2/24).
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? In Sacramento, Dan Morain writes before the Maloofs leave, there is a "matter of the Kings' $67 million debt and other payments to the city." Sacramento leaders "need to make clear that the team cannot move an inch before that money is paid in full." The city also "should put together an ownership group to replace the Maloofs." The "simplest path would be for the new owners to buy the Kings." Failing that, they "could buy one of the NBA's struggling franchises and move it here" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/24). Also in Sacramento, Joe Davidson writes, "The possibility of the Kings moving to Anaheim has made it a half-empty, half-full sort of mood across the region." Kings fan Richard Harris: "Why watch the Kings now if they're even considering a move to Anaheim?" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/24).