Long-rumored to be on the way out of California, the NBA’s Sacramento Kings franchise could be closer to a cross-country move than anyone expected.
Team owners and officials of Philadelphia-based Comcast-Spectacor are expected to meet in Virginia Beach Tuesday to discuss moving the team to the Commonwealth’s coastal resort city, according to a report from Inside Business (formerly the Hampton Roads Business Journal).
The report cites sources who say the Maloof family, which owns the team, and city officials are expected to announce the move as early as Wednesday, Aug. 29.
Comcast, which owns NBC and Global Spectrum, will guarantee a 25-year lease on a new arena in exchange for naming and broadcasting rights, according to the report.
The Virginia Beach Kings? Seriously?
If that sounds ridiculous, the folks over at Sactown Royalty have a few more reasons why this report doesn’t seem feasible.
• Virginia Beach is a smaller city with a smaller media market than Sacramento.
• The Maloofs are not exactly swimming in cash at the moment.
• NBA commissioner David Stern recently said if the Kings attempted to move to Anaheim — which already has a massive media market and an area — he would block the move.
(Here’s the full six-point takedown.)
Jason Jones, who covers the team for the Sacramento Bee, is not buying the report just yet.
“FWIW source says Kings are not moving to Virginia,” he tweeted.
Fellow Bee reporter Tony Bizjak wrote in a tweet that and “NBA spokesman says Kings have not filed for relocation and have not discussed VA Beach with NBA.”
Paul Pabst of “The Dan Patrick Show” tweeted the following response from the Kings:
“The Kings have been approached by numerous cities interested buying the team and relocating it. We are not going to discuss which cities have approached the team and are not going to comment on every rumor. I can tell you that the Kings are 100% focused on putting a winning team on the court.”
Reached for comment by CBS 13 in Sacramento, Joe Maloof denied the report.
“We haven’t talked to Virginia Beach,” Maloof said.
The Maloofs have been exploring an alternative home for their franchise after plans for a $391 million entertainment complex in Sacramento collapsed in April.
Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson cited “differences irreconcilable” on core issues in the deal and in April declared the deal dead once and for all.
“I’m disappointed for Sacramento,” Johnson said. “When you do all that you can, normally the reward is a victory, and I think our community was planning to win.”
According to the report, the new arena would be built across from the Virginia Beach Convention Center.
“Comcast, Live Nation and Global Spectrum have come to the city,” Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms told the Hampton Roads Business Journal last week. “They would guarantee us a professional sports team if the deal goes through.”
The Hampton Roads region has
never not been home to a major professional sports team since the ABA’s Virginia Squires folded in 1976. Among the possible markets that would seem to make a more sense as a landing spot due to stadium infrastructure, market size or both: Seattle, Kansas City and Las Vegas.
The Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News local television market has ranked 43rd in Nielsen’s market universe estimates over the last three years.