You may have heard by now that the Charlotte Bobcats are thinking about reclaiming their old identity as the Hornets and the Sacramento Kings are on the verge of relocating to Seattle where they’d relaunch the Seattle Supersonics brand. Both make for nostalgic and welcome news in my book, but former NBA player and current Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, doesn’t want to see his city’s only professional sports team skip town, an understandable sentiment. After all, where will all the corrupt politicians go to get schmoozed by big donors and lobbyists?
The Sacramento city council voted 7-2 to continue their commitment to finding a public-private partnership in build a new arena. That doesn’t mean much until there is a hard dollar figure behind it, but in theory it indicates that the city will chip in for a new arena. The big problem is that Sacramento County, not to point and laugh, but they’ve put themselves in a ridiculous bind. The county has a $181 million shortfall (not sure about the recency of that number, but whopping regardless). More amazingly, Sacramento isn’t even that big of a city with less than half a million residents. The county has about 1.4 million residents.
California just hiked their sales tax so now residents pay between 7.5%-10% depending on the locality. The state income tax is over 13% for high-income Californians. The revenue side of their equal is maxed out. They’re kaput. How can the NBA expect them to chip in for a new arena? Seattle, while far from a bastion of prudent fiscal policy, has a much more solid budget and a bigger population.
In fact, I recently heard that if the Sacramento Kings moved, it would leave Sacramento as the biggest city without a major professional sports team, but consider this: San Diego, Jacksonville, Seattle, Nashville, Louisville, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Fresno all have larger populations and no NBA teams. Some of them don’t have any professional sports teams, but I suppose the pro-Sacramento statistics may have been comparing metro areas.
The Kings are the fourth best NBA team in California. Among those teams they are in the smallest city. After the Warriors jump across the bay into their new PRIVATELY funded arena, the Kings will also have worst arena among those teams. There are bigger cities with better financial situations that will welcome an NBA franchise. The Kings have only been in Sacramento since 1985 when they moved from Kansas City, so it’s not even their original home. At this point it should just be a matter of what the owners want. Sacramento cannot pose a logical argument as to why they deserve the Kings. They blew it when they dried up the city coffers… Go Lakers!
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