The Sacramento Kings are not moving to Virginia Beach.
We’ll start there then go to the reports that started the whole Internet buzz on Thursday.
Next week a group of business leaders in the Virginia City area will make a pitch to their City Council about starting the process to build a new arena in that city, reports the Virginian-Pilot. The kind of arena that would house an NBA team. Good for them, dreaming big.
You can bet one of those people reached out to the Kings ownership — the Maloof family — as a preliminary feeler. From there things seemed to spiral out of control and well away from logic.
Business Insider — a publication based out of Virginia — wrote a story saying about the effort to build a stadium and adding the Sacramento Kings were part of the effort and seemed willing to move across the country to the Virginia Beach/Norfolk market.
The owners of the Sacramento Kings, an NBA franchise, and officials from Philadelphia-based Comcast-Spectacor are expected to be in Virginia Beach Tuesday to propose moving the team to the resort city and for Comcast to help build and lease a new pro sports arena.
Media giant Comcast will guarantee a 25-year lease on a new arena, supposedly for naming rights and for broadcasting the games, sources said. Comcast owns NBC and Global Spectrum, which operates arenas and stadiums across the country including the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University.
City officials and the Maloof family are expected to announce Wednesday that the Kings will land in Virginia Beach, sources said.
Here is part of the litany of problems with this concept:
• No source of any substance anywhere thinks this is happening. That includes sources in Sacramento.
• The Maloofs are looking for a partner right now, someone who will pay for a new arena but leave them with majority control of the team. Good luck with that, by the way. But that is not what is proposed here.
• Any move of the Kings will have to be approved by other NBA owners, most of whom are not thrilled with how the Maloofs have handled the situation in Sacramento. Let’s just say right now there is not a lot of good will out there to help the Maloofs out and get them to another market around the league.
• Virginia Beach/Norfolk is the 43rd largest television market in the nation, much smaller than the greater Sacramento area (20th largest). It would be the third smallest television market for an NBA team, ahead of only Oklahoma City and New Orleans. To be fair, the NBA will move teams to smaller markets (Seattle to Oklahoma City) but it is not the preferred move by owners.
• They are talking about the feasibility of building a new arena. Anybody who has followed what it takes to get an arena built knows that from feasibility to open doors it is about four years if everything goes smoothly. And things never go smoothly. So think five or six years from now before this new home opens. That is behind the pace of proposed projects in Seattle, and well behind things like the already built and open Sprint Center in Kansas City. Or even the already built arena in Anaheim the Maloofs are already eyeing.
• Which is to say, even if Virginia Beach builds an arena it’s unlikely the Kings will be in it.
• For the record, I have had no contact with anyone from Comcast or NBC about this story.