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Volume 20 No. 42
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Naming-rights deal shows the Kings aren’t losing any sleep

The Sacramento Kings’ new naming-rights deal with Sleep Train Mattress Centers comes as the team looks to drive revenue, including ticket sales, in the face of an uncertain future in Northern California.

Locally based Sleep Train is replacing Power Balance as the team’s arena naming-rights partner. The new, multiyear deal, which calls for the venue to be named the Sleep Train Arena, was announced last week.

The Kings did not disclose financial terms of the new deal. The prior deal, with Power Balance, reportedly called for the Kings to be paid $975,000 last year.

The Sleep Train agreement is one of some 70 sponsorships the team has signed for this season, Kings officials said.

“In the midst of the uncertainty and the perception that the team is going to leave, on the business front we have been successful,” said Jeff David, chief sales and marketing officer for the Kings.

Among other local business, the franchise is expected to sign a sponsorship deal with Blue Diamond Almonds, and David said he is negotiating to retain Thunder Valley Casino as a partner. A casino spokesperson was quoted last week as saying the company has decided not to return as a sponsor.

The team’s cloudy future is tied to the lack of a new arena financing deal between the city and the Maloof family, which owns the franchise. In April, the team rejected a proposed $391 million arena deal from the city, throwing the future of the team in Sacramento in doubt. Last year, while talks for that arena deal in Sacramento were ongoing, the Maloofs had discussions about moving the team to Anaheim.

The turmoil has taken a toll at the gate, where the Kings averaged 14,508 fans per game last season, fourth-worst in the 30-team NBA. It was the sixth consecutive season in which the club missed the playoffs and comes for a franchise that used to be one of the best draws in the NBA. The Kings had a home sellout streak that stretched from 1999 to 2007.

David would not disclose full-season-ticket sales numbers, but he said the team has a season-ticket renewal rate of around 80 percent. Leaguewide, teams are averaging about 88 percent this year.

“We have a history of renewing in the mid-80th percentile, and we will be consistent with that,” he said.

Team officials are emphasizing partial-season-ticket plans to offer more flexibility to ticket buyers wondering about the team’s future.