As Seattle & Sacramento Battle For The Kings, What Will Seperate The Cities?


Jan 12, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; A Sacramento Kings fan holds up a sign during a timeout in the game against the Miami Heat at Sleep Train Arena. The Miami Heat defeated the Sacramento Kings 128-99. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

What’s happening in Seattle and Sacramento is unprecedented for the NBA. To have two high quality markets, both of whom who’ve shown their strengths, battling for a franchise – you just don’t see it.

As David Stern said recently during his All-Star press conference, Seattle has little else they can do to secure the Kings franchise – they’ve done everything they possibly can. They have a wonderful group backing the the proposed franchise. They have a high quality market. They have a very supportive history. Money is no object and assuming all goes right, along with brand new arena to call their own – or at least, that’s the plan.

Switching over to Sacramento, much of the same can be said. The city and fans continue to show their support – fans recently filling the arena ever since the sale was announced, local businesses putting their money where their mouth is – for a second time, after doing it before when the Maloof’s had moving trucks backed up to the Sleep Train loading docks. In a matter of a few days/weeks, Sacramento too will have their own wealthy financial group ready to back the Kings. Add in one of the most supportive fanbases in NBA history – how do you make a decision if you’re the NBA? Neither city deserves to be void of an NBA franchise, but, as we’re all aware – somebody is going to be left out.

As David Stern recently said, finances shouldn’t play a part in this battle – and they shouldn’t. The Seattle based Hansen-Balmer group is overly funded and the expected Burkle-Mastrov group in Sacramento is no financial slouch either. There wont be a bidding war here, so what’s going to sway the NBA’s Board of Governors?

Steel and rebar.

Right now, both sides have a lot of posturing – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson continually stating his confidence while the Seattle group continues to talk about how air tight their deal is. Truth is – nobody knows, on either account. This isn’t a situation where one city appears to have substantial leverage over the other – a situation where a franchise is struggling because the fans and city aren’t supporting it. This is, for all intensive purposes, something the NBA hasn’t really ever come across. So the deciding factor? Construction.

The NBA doesn’t want dreams and hope. They don’t want to hear what plans are or intentions. They want signed documents and men pouring cement.

If there is any advantage in this scenario, it’s that the Kings do have an arena plan approved – one that the NBA directly involved themselves with and helped mold with their own hands last year in Orlando. Questions loom if the proposed Kings ownership will be okay with that plan or if they’ll want to make their own – which is well within their right, but it could be a detrimental decision if it forces the city and plan back to square one. Still – it’s a plan that was approved and a plan that the NBA obviously signed off on, something Seattle doesn’t have at this current moment. That’s not to say they wont in the near future – but as of right now, if you’re looking for some type of advantage – that is in Sacramento’s favor – but how long will that advantage last? Seattle is closing in, so Sacramento must move quickly.

That all said – it’s still nothing more than dreams and hope until the documents are signed and construction begins, for both sides. And unfortunately, in my humble opinion, that’s the driving force behind one city losing out in this scenario. Whomever can come up with the better plan – whomever can have it approved and certified the quickest – whomever can appease the NBA’s BOG with the best iron clad arena deal, will be the city with an NBA franchise at the end of the day.