Keeping The Kings In Sacramento

Sacramento's Mayor, Kevin Johnson, may have solution to make this fan's dream come true. (AP)
Sacramento's Mayor, Kevin Johnson, may have solution to make this fan's dream come true. (AP)

It's easy to understand why Joe Maloof and his family have wanted to move their basketball team, the Sacramento Kings, to another city.

The citizens of Sacramento have been unwilling to commit millions of dollars in public money to the construction of a new arena for the NBA team which has been operating there since 1985. Previously, that team did business in Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City/Omaha, and then Kansas City with no help from Omaha at all.

The decision which Sacramento's citizens made half a decade ago would seem to be a rational one, given that Sacramento's economy has been as bad as many and worse than some. Employment is down, and programs to serve children in need have recently lost $48 million. Fingers have perhaps been crossed regarding bridges, tunnels, power plants, things of that nature.

Given the way the economics of pro sports have operated elsewhere and forever, it's understandable that the Maloofs have been irritated by how the stubborn citizens of Sacramento have clung to common sense and rational self interest. It's also no surprise that NBA Commissioner David Stern threw his weight behind a move, presumably to Anaheim, California, where a new arena and the income associated with novelty await the Kings, or whatever they would be called if they relocated.

But this week Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who played basketball briefly on a team in Cleveland and then brilliantly for over a decade on a team in Phoenix, announced that he thought he could arrange ten million dollars in corporate sponsorship pledges for another effort to keep the Kings from seeking a sixth home. To crank up support for that effort, Mayor Johnson said, "If we want to be a major league city, you have to have major league facilities."

This no doubt inspired Commissioner Stern to smile broadly, and certainly the Maloofs haven't disagreed with Mayor Johnson. In fact, they have agreed to keep their basketball team where it is for another year, although they will leave the engines running on the trucks that are prepared to carry the Kings south.

Co-owner Joe Maloof left no doubt of that. He said this week, "there is a sense of urgency," which is perhaps the same thing many citizens of Sacramento have been feeling for some time about matters having nothing whatsoever to do with basketball.

This segment aired on May 5, 2011. The audio for this segment is not available.


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