The death of the Cal Expo plan is bad news — very bad news — if you’re a Kings fan living in Sacramento.
“No one is packing up and backing up the trucks,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said Thursday, referring to the latest failed arena deal involving a three-way land swap, “but we just don’t have any new ideas. There were several good ones reduced to the convergence plan, and everyone got behind it except for one enterprise (Cal Expo). Cal Expo exhausted us. If something comes up that’s workable, we would be all for it. But we don’t see anything workable right now.”
That sounds a lot like cover if the Maloofs (the brothers who own the Kings) do decide to leave town. “Hey, we tried, we really did, but you need a new building and you can’t get one there.”
There are NBA ready buildings in Anaheim and Kansas City. Other cities such as Las Vegas are looking into building one. The options are out there.
It’s not fair to the fans of Kings — that is a strong and loyal fan base. They filled the building when the team was good and have not deserted them in years and years of rough times. There is a real excitement in the city around the team becoming good again.
And it could be gone. A Seattle Sonics fan writing to TrueHoop summed it perfectly, “The NBA does. not. care.”
The NBA is a business, and don’t ever forget it. Basketball is simply the product being sold. Right now it needs to be sold to the people and corporations that can buy luxury suites and the high-end premiere ticket packages. That is where the revenue is, that is the goose laying the golden egg. If you don’t have an arena with those things — and a market of people who will buy them — then the league is gone. History and memory be damned.
Sacramento fans, maybe Mayor Kevin Johnson can pull something out. But David Stern just provided cover fire for the Maloofs. And that is a very bad sign.