When Orange County Register sports columnist Randy Youngman wrote a few days ago about the possibility of the Sacramento Kings moving into the Honda Center in Anaheim, it still read like a pipe dream.
Several other cities could also land the NBA franchise, selling the team could send the team anywhere (or nowhere), and Sacramento, whose mayor is a former NBA star, had not yet weighed in. But several media outlets picked up on Youngman's what-if, and now a report out of California's capital shows the veteran scribe was really on to something.
Rob McAllister of Sacramento talk-radio station KFBK-AM 1530 reports Anaheim Ducks and Honda Center owner Henry Samueli has offered The Maloof brothers, who own the Kings, a $100 million loan to help to bring the team to OC.
The reporter says an unnamed source told him Samueli, who has mad Broadcom money, tried to buy the Kings last year, but the Maloofs refused. The Ducks owner is so intent on getting an NBA team into the Honda Center that he is apparently willing to do so without an ownership interest.
Upfront, that is: According to McAllister's report, the Samueli deal would allow him to assume some percentage of Kings ownership if the Maloofs default on the loan. That's a real possibility given the Maloofs are seeing their fortune dwindle amid tough economic times.
Meanwhile, they have been stymied in getting the city of Sacramento to pony up for new digs to replace the aging Arco Arena. Voters rejected the idea in 2006. Political and business leaders there are now scrambling to keep the team amid the out-of-town interest.
If the Maloofs go into the deal believing they can maintain ownership of the team in SoCal, Samueli's loan will make things easier. For one, it would pay the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers for territorial rights, according to McAllister. And the brothers already know something about hosting sports events in Orange County; their annual Maloof Money Cup skateboarding events happen at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
But it ain't a done deal yet. The team is also being wooed by big money in San Jose and Seattle. A city that can offer an NBA franchise sole occupancy of an arena–no sharesies with an NHL team–may have an edge. Then again . . . stay tuned, sports fans.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.