For several years now, the Sacramento Kings ownership has been pressuring the city’s government to help them get a new arena to replace their home since 1988, the Power Balance Pavilion (formerly ARCO Arena II). These efforts have been futile and the Maloof family actually backed out of a potential deal this past April, leaving plenty of Kings’ fans in limbo.
NBA-less cities like Seattle and Anaheim have been mentioned as possible destinations, but recent reports have surfaced of Virginia Beach, VA. now being a very real possibility. Comcast-Spectacor, current owners of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, is a Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company that is courting the Kings with an 18,000-seat stadium proposal and a 25-year lease to bring the team to Virginia.
Virginia has the 12th-highest population in the United States, yet they have none of the four major pro sports teams. Bringing an established team to an area with no professional basketball presence can be awful (see: Vancouver) or brilliant (see: Oklahoma City).
Vancouver’s failed attempt at keeping the Grizzlies was likely because the city just wasn’t ready for basketball. Hockey did and always will reign supreme in British Columbia.
When the SuperSonics were sold and went to OKC, it was partly because team owner Clay Bennett had seen how well the Oklahoma fans received the Hornets, who had been forced from the state by Hurricane Katrina. It didn’t hurt that he was also from the city, but that immense showing of fan devotion surely helped the process.
Virginia Beach is primarily a tourist town, but bringing a professional sports team, especially one with intriguing young talent on the roster, could help change that. The Kings haven’t seen much success in Sacramento since the early 2000’s, and while there’s no guarantee that would change on the East Coast, the Maloof brothers aren’t the owners to shy away from risk.