While talk of the Sacramento King's arena woes have been public knowledge for some time, today's report in Hampton Roads, Virginia-based Inside Business came as a shock to many with unnamed sources relaying to the newspaper that Kings' ownership may be ready to give up on staying in the California capital and head to the Virginia Beach area. A press conference is rumored to be scheduled for Wednesday of next week to formally announce the NBA franchise's relocation.
After many attempts, the Kings' owners, the Maloof brothers, and the city of Sacramento have failed to finalize a deal for a replacement to the aging Power Balance Pavilion, which was built in 1988 and has failed to generate revenues to the Maloof's liking. This rumored arena plan, funded in part by a proposed hotel tax, would certainly give the Maloofs the premium seating options and ability for secondary revenue streams (real estate surrounding the arena) that Sacramento's city government was unable to secure. However, as Field of Schemes writer Neil deMause points out, the Norfolk, VA area (which is part of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area with Virginia Beach and Newport News) appears as an odd choice to relocate to, as the market is much smaller than Sacramento (Norfolk's metropolitan statistical area population is 1.6 million versus Sacramento's 2.5 million), which had its own issues competing at its size.
Perhaps the parties involved in this deal are fine with the Kings being somewhat of a 'loss leader' as other media/entertainment entities tied to this deal are heavyweights like Comcast-Spectator and Live Nation, guaranteeing the facility would host concerts and other entertainment year round.
If the Virginia deal does in fact go through with the suspected announcement on Wednesday, Sacramento would lose its single major league team, leaving only the minor league Pacific Coast League (AAA baseball) River Cats and the UFL's Mountain Lions for professional sports. The Kings name would join other defunct Sacramento sports teams like the WNBA's Monarchs, WLAF's Surge, and CFL's Gold Miners.
A move to Virginia would make this the fifth version of the franchise as the NBA's Rochester Royals (1945-57) became the Cincinnati Royals ('57-'72), who then moved to Kansas City ('72-'85) and became the Kings, who then moved to Sacramento in 1985. If this all plays out, it's unfortunate for the Sacramento sports fan, especially since the team would not be moving to a bigger market that could give the owners what they want, but would be attempting to make it work in a much smaller area.