NEW YORK, (Reuters) – The Sacramento Kings will remain in the California capital for at least one more season after dropping plans to relocate to Anaheim, the NBA team confirmed yesterday.
The Maloof family, owners of the Kings, had been investigating a move to Orange County after its efforts to secure a new arena deal in Sacramento stalled.
“Out of respect to Kings fans and the regional business community, we have decided to remain in Sacramento for the 2011-12 season,” said the Maloofs in a statement. “The fans’ spirit and energy, specifically our season ticket holders, has been remarkable and we are truly thankful for their loyalty.
“We also are greatly appreciative of the support from our corporate sponsors as well as other local businesses that have come forward in recent weeks.”
The reprieve gives Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who played 12 seasons in the NBA, a chance to drum up support for a new arena.
But if Johnson cannot deliver on a new arena then it is likely the Kings, who play in one of the NBA’s oldest arenas, would still move to Anaheim and take up residence at the Honda Center.
Local billionaire Ronald Burkle, who is a co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, has said he wants to buy the team and keep them in Sacramento. However, the Maloofs have insisted they do not wish to sell.
“During this process, Mayor Johnson has strongly indicated to both the community and the NBA that he is capable of getting the support to build a state-of-the-art entertainment and sports facility that the Sacramento Region and the tremendous Kings fans so rightly deserve,” added the Maloofs. “We look forward to seeing Mayor Johnson bring his vision to reality.
“However, if an arena plan cannot be finalised in a timely fashion, the NBAs relocation committee has assured Maloof Sports and Entertainment that it will support an application to move the franchise to another market starting in 2012-13.”