Kiss your Royals NBA team goodbye, Anaheim.
A tearful Gavin Maloof emerged from a meeting in Orlando, Florida, this morning to announce that the Kings are staying in Sacramento under a deal that promises the NBA franchise a new arena. The Maloof brothers who own the Kings had flirted with moving to the Honda Center, of course.
But Sacramento, led by former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson, mounted a strong defense to keep the team that has been stymied by past attempts to make the franchise more profitable through a new arena to replace what for years was known as the Arco Center.
That culminated in All-Star weekend talks in Florida between Johnson, the Maloofs and NBA Commissioner David Stern that resulted in a deal that could go before the Sacramento City Council by March 6. Various sources have claimed the city would come up with up to $230 million, the Kings would chip in $75-$100 million and arena operator AEG would toss in another $40-$60 million toward a new arena.
Henry Samueli, the Broadcom co-founder who owns the Anaheim Ducks NHL franchise and the Honda Center management company–and who has made no secret of his desire to share the arena with an NBA team–moved on months ago from trying to lure the Kings.
Earlier, even Johnson acknowledged it may have been a done deal that the Kings would move to Anaheim and be re-named the Royals (to pay homage to the franchise's original team name in Kansas City and avoid confusions with the NHL's Los Angeles Kings). Through Stern's intervention, Sacramento and the Kings agreed that the team would play the existing, strike-shortened season there while negotiations continued.
Meanwhile, Samueli and his minions–who include Anaheim city leaders–say they remain committed to trying to get a new NBA team or importing an existing franchise to the Honda Center, despite strong resistance mounted by the Lakers and Clippers, which want the Southern California market share all to themselves.