From Anaheim With (No) Love

Dear Sacramento Kings fans,

It is with a tinge – no make that a ton – of guilt that I bring you this first-hand report from the enemy camp: the Honda Center is pretty nice.

We saw a glimpse of the future on Thursday night, when the same NCAA Tournament that has snubbed its nose at Arco Arena in recent years embraced this Anaheim venue that the Kings will likely call home. As arenas go, it’s no supermodel, but it is certainly marriage material.

I won’t bother to explain why this building is such a better fit for the Kings. Many of you already know those details, and the point here is that I’m giving it a thumbs-up on the sniff test. We saw the potential on Thursday, when the combo platter of San Diego State-UConn and Duke-Arizona was made even more tasty by the raucous crowd and big-time basketball atmosphere.

And speaking of culinary delights, today’s news that the city of Anaheim is spending $75 million to lure the Kings should be viewed as the cherry on top. All along, I’ve been relaying the message from involved parties that the Maloofs wouldn’t be gone unless they received a “sweetheart” deal. Well, she’s a real gem.

As for the hope floated by Fox 40 pro Jim Crandell, who first reported that a plan was in the works to keep the team in Sacramento? Truckloads of skepticism on this end, not because of the information but its ultimate relevance in the outcome.

The plan, as reported by The Bee’s Ailene Voisin, involves two members of the Kings’ original management group. More power to them, of course, but recent conversations I have had with people who know the family’s mindset left me convinced they would pick Anaheim over Sacramento even if a plan was in place.

There are certainly potential obstacles to the move, from the Board of Governor’s approval after a team files for relocation (April 18 deadline) to the size of the relocation fee and whether that could be a deal-breaker for the Maloofs. But there is real excitement from within about life in Anaheim, a strong desire to begin this large market existence and escape the challenges of the small market business model.

On the anecdotal front, the locals here are starting to open their arms too. Exhibit A: at a recent Anaheim Ducks hockey game, I was told that the NBA highlight reel which runs during breaks in the action didn’t begin with the Lakers, or even the Clippers, but the Kings.

I’ll have more in the coming days, as I took an unofficial tour of the joint and will share those viewings then. Not the love letter you were hoping for, to be sure. But in the words of the one and only Kenny Thomas, it is what it is.

Sam Amick


12 responses to “From Anaheim With (No) Love

  1. who covers sac bond and territory rights??

  2. upward of 100 mill. right?

  3. Thanks for your honesty and insight, Sam. It feels surreal watching what Mayor Johnson calls a “slow death” in losing the Kings.

  4. Father Flanigan

    Lazy article Sam, look into the deal Anaheim is offering, it’s not that sweet. And I’m not the only one thinking that:

    The community has opened its arms because the guy trying to lure the team puts their highlights on the jumbotron? Why do all of your articles about the Kings relocating have a twinge of glee in them? Can you try and tone your enthusiasm for the team leaving. I know you grew up a Warriors fan and all…

  5. I’ve heard a lot about how great the crowd’s have been for the NCAA tourny. Yet everyone seems to look past the point that the crowd’s are loud because they are rooting for their school/alma mater, I doubt they are all Anaheim locals…. Also for a team in the playoff hunt you’d think the Ducks would have a higher average attendance of 14,602 (85% capacity)

  6. That was really poorly written Sam. A chunk of the article makes no sense.

    You say that “the locals here are starting to open their arms too”, and then the anecdote you use is that Kings basketball highlights were shown at an Anaheim hockey game. Uhh….wouldn’t that be a hockey game in the arena owned by the guy that is trying to lure the Kings to Anaheim. You think there might be a connection there? How does that have anything to do with locals opening their arms?

    Also, I don’t think an NCAA tourney drawing local fan interest is the same as drawing NBA interest. It is a special event that brings in outside fans that fly/drive-in for the event and isn’t held there every year. There is big difference between that and consistently filling up an arena during an NBA season with two other competing teams in the same market. That would be like saying because the stadium the Jacksonville Jaguars play in sold out when they held the Super Bowl they have a ton of fan interest and will draw well for home football games. It doesn’t work that way.

  7. The Kings are going to find out what the Raiders did about Anaheim. That’s it’s fools gold and that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. If Anaheim had trouble supporting the only NFL football team in southern cal how can they expect to support a 3rd rate NBA team? This move may be the nail in the coffin for the Maloofs. They will spend over 100 million to move the team; and find out they don’t have a strong enough fan base in the area and will continue to lose money. In a few years they will be forced to sell and there Kingdom will come crumbling down.

  8. The sensitivities are on full display here, and I respect that. That being said, I wasn’t trying to comprehensively connect dots but rather share a few minor anecdotal happenings. Relaying the mood from the Anaheim and Maloof side mostly, and trying to temper some of the enthusiasm that came with the recent reports. To that point, consider the fact that Sacto Mayor Kevin Johnson is being as dismissive of that plan as I’m currently choosing to be. I’d love to be wrong about my read on the situation, believe me.

  9. The Maloofs will be forced to sell their team soon after moving to SoCal. The fans in SoCal will reject their pathetic team. Maloofs is desperate of course because their financials are crumbling all around them. Las Vegas is dying and the casinos aint worth 2 cents these days.

  10. “I’ve been relaying the message from involved parties that the Maloofs wouldn’t be gone unless they received a “sweetheart” deal. Well, she’s a real gem.”
    Have you seen the terms of the deal?? They take on another enormous loan (in addition to the loan in Sac), lose ownership of an arena, and at least 50% the revenue (parking, food/bev, naming rights, etc.) that come with it! Come on Sam…the boys are getting taking for a ride….

  11. Lot of emotion involved with this stuff Sam, don’t take it personally. Thank you for your updates and keep them coming. We definitely appreciate it and miss your reporting at the Bee.

    It seems that even though the deal doesn’t seem to be a sweetheart one, it will still be more lucrative than what they have now in Sacramento. It also doesn’t help that the city and its officials seem to be antagonizing the Maloofs. Bad advising for all parties.

    At least we’re not worrying about the stupid ping pong balls right now – Kings have won 3 in a row! Totally hurting their lottery chances. Hopefully between Amick and Bill Simmons, I will still be able to care about the NBA a little when the Kings move.

    One more rant – if anyone tells Kings fans to “just” drive to Oakland to watch the NBA, I’m going to…well, do nothing I guess since it’s anonymous message board posting, but it will definitely annoy me.