Kings, NBA In Anaheim Would Have Failed
This comes just about a year after heavy speculation pointed to the team moving to Anaheim, Calif., which would have made them the third NBA franchise in Southern California. Last March, calling the Kings’ chances of staying a “Hail Mary” would have been generous. Had the deal not been completed this spring, Seattle was the preferred destination in lieu of Anaheim. Instead, the team will remain where it belongs.
It’s not difficult to grasp, but it needs to be said: Another NBA franchise is unnecessary in SoCal.
The market is probably big enough to sustain three teams. Plus, with the Lakers moving to Time Warner next season, Fox Sports West would have been open to take on the hypothetical Anaheim Royals with a presumably richer TV contract the Kings currently have up north.
The problem is that the Kings will likely be an average team at best next season, making it difficult for a new fanbase to support after the initial new-team shine dulls. The Los Angeles Angels of Southern California of Anaheim of Orange Country (is that their official name now?) succeed because they have a winning product, and they’re one of two immediate baseball teams in the greater L.A. area. And they just signed Albert Pujols. Perhaps the name rings a bell.
In 2011, the Angels pulled the fifth highest attendance numbers and the ninth highest attendance percentage (average percentage of how filled the ballpark was per game). Crucially: They win games.
The Kings will be extremely fortunate to be within five games of .500 this season.
Especially with the Clippers returning ascending to relevance, only Orange County residents will go. And only if the team is good.
Last year’s USC football team -- the premier football team in L.A. -- attracted an average of about 75,000 people in the L.A. Coliseum, which goes near 95 grand on a full day. The team was top-ten caliber, but since it could not play in a bowl, interest and attendance waned.
Back to Sacramento: The Kings fans have done a decent job this season of showing up to games. Power Balance Pavilion certainly is not a big draw to people. The arena is older than Michael Jordan’s first championship ring. To add, the arena is not reasonably priced beyond the cheapest of seats. With a new arena and a new pricing model, new consumers will be drawn -- and it will not be in the boonies of Natomas, Calif., but downtown Sacramento.
The fans have the ability to show up; even during the early, terrible years up until the end of the Rick Adelman era, the place sold out. All the time. It was the thing to do in Sacramento on a weekday night. On any given day, there's less to do in Sacramento than L.A.
Orange County already has the “Happiest Place on Earth.” A better chance exists that Peyton Manning will take off his pads and pick up a glove to pitch for the Dodgers than the Honda Center has of claiming that title.
It was a selfish pipedream of the city to think the team would do well and be accepted in the O.C. on a long-term basis.
For Kings fans, the 2015-16 season and a new arena are finally on the horizon without a shred of doubt that the team will be there. If Anaheim truly wants an NBA team, it will have to wait its turn. And the city must fight with Seattle, a city that has a great track record of embracing a basketball franchise. The city announced plans for a new arena in mid-February. Though it is still unseen if the deal will be finalized, a team would do better to go there opposed to Anaheim.
Sacramento can now say “#HereWeStayed.” Anaheim will have to employ a new campaign: “#HereWeWait.”