As the Maloof brothers contemplate moving the Kings franchise out of Sacramento and into Anaheim, California, would they be better off considering other cities as possible NBA destinations?
Anaheim—while only the tenth largest city in the state—is approximately 25 miles from the mega-market of Los Angeles. It is currently the home of the NHL's Ducks and MLB's Angels. Disneyland continues to be a major part of the city's identity and makes Anaheim a top tourist destination.
The city also recently upped the ante in its efforts to get an NBA team, by voting to issue $75 million in bonds for upgrades to the publicly owned Honda Center to help make it more "NBA ready."
But is that enough to say that Anaheim will make the grade as a profitable home to an NBA team and add value to the Maloof's investment for years to come?
It seems hard to imagine that being the third NBA banana in the Los Angeles market can actually be a large enough slice of the pie for fan dollars and corporate cash (unless Disney is looking to go all-out).
This is also the same Los Angeles that hasn't been able to keep an NFL team in town, watching both the Raiders move back to Oakland and the Rams fleeing to St. Louis.
Here are three other cities that might make some financial sense:
1) Las Vegas
Pros: In a league where salary is capped, and the best players max out, doesn't Las Vegas sound like an attractive home for prospective free agents. The Maloofs already have a Vegas hook with their stake in the Palms Casino Resort.
Cons: The Thomas & Mack Center despite recent upgrades is nearly 30 years old. Even with its recent growth in population, Vegas would still be considered one of the smaller market teams in the league. There's always that whole gambling thing.
Possible Nicknames: Knights, Palms, Cougars
Pros: Seattle has a large corporate base (Microsoft, Starbucks,Amazon ,Nordstrom). The city already had a 41 year run with the Sonics and formed a passionate fan base. Seattle is one of the largest metro areas currently without an NBA team.
Cons: The failure to renovate or replace KeyArena has already driven away one NBA team all the way to Oklahoma City in 2008.
Possible Nicknames: Sonics (of course)
3) San Diego
Pros: San Diego is a large warm weather city far enough away from Los Angeles that could develop a local fan base and tap into some of the international market from across the border in nearby Mexico.
Cons: The Valley View Casino Center probably sounds like a Maloof-type building, but it's been in bad financial shape for years. The city has had trouble with attendance at Padres and Chargers games in the past. So, would a new NBA team fill the arena each night, or would they eventually encounter the same struggles that plagued the San Diego Clippers years?
Possible Nicknames: Fire, Wave, Whales
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