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.