Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Holy Trinity Part III -- What We've Learned

by SonDog

After the admirable yet futile effort against San Antonio in the first round ouster, the Sacramento Kings head into an off-season filled with uncertainty in the front office, uncertainty on the roster, and uneasiness in the fan base. Basically, there are three subplots to this off-season:

-- (Player Personnel) With the Maloofs seemingly making the personnel decisions for the franchise (see: Artest, Ron), there is little doubt that Bonzi Wells will be offered a massive contract to stick around in Sacramento. Wells has said all the right things this year, his play in the San Antonio series was remarkable, and his desire (at least publicly) to stay in Sacramento has resonated with the fans.

I'm not as sold on Bonzi for the long term. His performance this year early and in the playoffs seemed to be a classic contract drive. Where was this player through the first six years of his career? Can, or better yet, will Wells bring this type of intensity and passion game in and game out with a new contract? I'm doubting it.

At this point, the only way Wells doesn't come back to Sacramento is if Isiah Thomas offers him a max contract with the Knicks, which could easily happen. In fact, I'm going to predict that Isiah makes a run at Wells. I know it's not too long of a limb to venture out on.

At least nobody has ever questioned Bonzi Wells's character or will to give his all every game. Wait...

-- (Coaching Situation) Hey, have you heard that coach Rick Adelman doesn't have a contract extension yet? Have you seen this? Have you heard this? I have no idea what to make of this other than to say it seemed inevitable all year that Adelman was on his way out after the season. Suddenly, after two wins against the Spurs in the first-round of the playoffs, all those writers and fans that had abandoned the Adleman bandwagon in the middle of the desert seem intent on jumping back on for another ride. As with Wells, I'm not sold on Adelman.

-- (Vegas Situation) If you TiVo'd or recorded game 6 against San Antonio, check out the ESPN interview Marc Jones had with Gavin Maloof early in the third quarter. Here's a synopsis: 1) Jones referred to Maloof as the owner of the "Sacramento Spurs," which could have been the stupidest moment in the history of sports journalism. (The incredulous look on Maloof's face was priceless. If I were running ESPN, I would have fired Jones on the spot, especially after he didn't even think to correct himself.) 2) Asked about a Sacramento Bee poll that reported only 27 percent of Sacramento residents think Arco Arena needs to be replaced, Maloof was visibly angry and issued a response of (to paraphrase), "If we don't get a new arena, we're out of Sacramento faster than Kobe fleeing a hotel room in Vail." Okay, so I made that up. Regardless, Maloof didn't hide his displeasure with the unending stupidity of the Sacramento residents and town council. Seriously, do the people of Sacramento think they can strong-arm the Maloofs into keeping the team in town simply by not helping to replace Arco? Really? They believe this? It's been discussed here several times, but the Kings' move to Vegas becomes much more of a reality by the minute.

So, you people do know that we own the hottest casino in Vegas, right? And you know we're sexy bitches that do whatever we want to do, right? That's it, we're building a new arena in Vegas.


Stapes said...

I'm too sure what to do about Bonzi now too. They already have everyone else under long term contacts which means they will be stuck with pretty much the same team for the next two-three years I can't believe Kenny Thomas is signed for four more years. That sucks.

I think they'll sign bonzi and go with the exact same team next year. Not much else they can do. No one is really tradeable.

bh said...

Seriously, do the people of Sacramento think they can strong-arm the Maloofs into keeping the team in town simply by not helping to replace Arco? Really? They believe this? It's been discussed here several times, but the Kings' move to Vegas becomes much more of a reality by the minute.

Really, what the Maloofs are trying to do is the definition of strong-arm tactics. They ask the city and people of Sacramento to replace an arena that was built twenty years ago, then pay to get into the arena they've built so that the Maloofs become more affluent. The Maloofs understand that, as the only national sports act in a relatively small town, they have the ability to hold the city hostage.

sondog said...

The people of Sac and the city council are playing a game that they will lose. The majority of basketball arenas are publicly funded (100% public funds), and the Maloof's have offered to even pick up part of the tab on the arena. In my mind, they're being reasonable, but the people of Sac are not. They don't have to agree with the principle of making the Maloofs more money, as long as they understand that it means the Kings are gone if they don't help. But hey, at least they won't have to pay any tax money to support an arena. They will always have the River Cats.

Anonymous said...

2 words sondog - Mark Cuban

He believed in his team and sunk millions into the area HIMSELF. I'm not paying for the new arena just so the Maloofs have more cash to buy hooker boots for their game dates. I may love me some Kings, but my tax dollars should probably go toward warding of impending floods, not additional arena box seating that I'll never be able to afford anyway.

bh said...

You've supported my point quite well. The Maloofs know there are die-hard Kings fans out there saying exactly what you've written. "The Kings are gone if we don't vote for a tax increase and new arena. Shit. If we say no, all we'll have is the River Cats." It's hard to say the citizens of Sacramento are using "strong-arm" tactics, when their only real action is to turn down a tax increase. I'll assume you would argue that the majority of people in Sacramento (or at least a vocal minority) feel as you do, which is that the Kings are important to the community, are a source of pride, and losing them would be heartbreaking. They and the Maloofs know that not approving of a new, publicly funded arena would most likely result in a this huge part of the community being gone. Really then, the fans are in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

Seriously, it's hard to understand how the people of Sacramento are in a position of power in this, when they will lose no matter what the outcome.

sondog said...


Directed towards Anonymous: The American Airlines Arena (Mavs home) was funded by the public by a 5% tax increase on rental cars and a 2% tax on hotel rooms. To the best of my knowledge, most of the residents of Dallas are widely unafected by this type of tax structure. The irony is that most people feel that THEIR tax money goes to the basketball owner's pocket, which is untrue.

Through a lease with the city of Dallas (through which the city makes money) a third-party runs the Arena. Other events (concerts, rodeos, etc.) make money for the city. While an owner like Cuban does quite well for himself, he is providing the entertainment of the NBA for the city.

BH, I fail to feel sorry for Sacramento on this issue. You're absolutely correct that they are not in a position of power in the traditional sense. However, the perception from numerous articles in the SacBee is that the city THINKS it has some sort of power in this by saying no. They have used the aforementioned public opinion poll about Arco (seriously, if people there don't think Arco needs to be replaced, they're on crack) and the aformentioned "we're just putting money back in the Maloof's walets" reasoning in order to turn down a tax increase (even if that increase is only on rental cars and hotel rooms... which I still fail to see how that will widely effect the majority of residents of Sac). Anyways, the position of power comes from what I perceive to be their belief that the Maloofs won't leave and that they should fund their own arena because they're wealthy enough to do so. In short, it's a false sense of power.

I am on the Maloofs side on this. They have offered to pony up to $200 million of their own money, which would be one of the largest private funding for a sports venue outside of PacBell Park. I don't think the residents are damned if they do at all. We all know how passionate the fans are for their Kings in Sac, but it dumbfounds me why they would not be willing to pony up some funding for a new arena that could be used not just for the Kings, but for numerous other events as well.

Regardless, it's reached the point in Sacramento that the Maloofs will get a largely publicly funded arena in Vegas and will move the team. It's sad, but the cold reality of the NBA. The same things could happen in Seattle and Portland soon as well.

bh said...

In short, it's a false sense of power.

If you'll recall, my objection was to the idea that Kings fans are trying to "strong-arm" the Maloofs. You agree though that the people of Sacramento have some "false sense" of power, but no real power. I'm glad we have reached this point.

I'm not sure the Sacramento voter objects solely to the idea of a tax increase. It has to be, in part, due to the Maloofs having brought the franchise to national prominence, being loved by the city and its people, seemingly themselves embracing the city, then using that goodwill as capital to say build us an arena or we're gone. If their objections is based solely on the tax increase, I can see their frustration there as well. What percentage of everyone who uses hotels or rental cars in the city of Sacramento are there because they are going to attend a Kings game? A tax, is a tax, is a tax, and at least 50% of the country is going to object on principal, not necessarily because it comes out of their pockets. Economists all over will tell you that a tax here will hurt there. If you want to host a convention but don't want to pay a tax in Sacramento, you're going to head to Roseville, resulting in lost revenues for Sacramento. Like it or not, any imposed tax will have real consequences that will end up affecting the city. Is that consequence, in the mind of a Kings fan, worth supporting the Maloofs? I know we're probably talking about a small tax, but I'm guessing you understand my point.

bh said...

And why don't you have a picture up anymore?

Stapes said...

The Maloofs can afford to play hardball because they have the power. They'll still be the Maloofs (rich, pulling lots of bush, own their own casino) if they move the team. They will be hated in sac but nowhere else.

Sacramento without the kings will be Stockton. No offense to my Stockton homies, but that place is a shithole.

sondog said...

The fundamental issue is the question of who should pay for a new arena. It's the same debate that plays out everytime a pro franchise decides it's time for a new arena. I agree with you BH. The Maloofs hold the power with regards to the team. That being said, the residents and city council of Sac hold the power regarding whether or not they are going to give the Maloofs money.

Here's my question though... knowing what they know (the Kings will leave) why are the people of Sac so willing to let the team walk away? Is all that talk about "the most passionate fan base in basketball" just a bunch of crap when it comes down to it? It's ironic to me that cities like Oklahoma City, Portland, Tampa Bay, etc. build stadiums with 100% public funds as a tactic to lure teams to come to their cities (because of the percieved public benefit), but the city of Sacramento seems hell-bent on letting the Kings leave becasue they won't approve a tax aimed at tourists. All the way around, I think we would all agree that it is a very sad situation.

And my picture is no longer an accurate representation of me as I no longer have hair.

OZ said...

BH, you say that a smal tax could propell tourism away from the city right? On that same line of thinkng, won't a downtown arena create an influx of tourism? Much more so than the drop in revenues?

OZ said...

It's a good business decision to move to Vegas. And though it seems ridiculous, they will not get enough support in Sac to build the arena because the general population is too stupid to recognize the benefits from such a small individual expenditure. I'll be mortified and heartbroken if they take my team away, but I wouldn't blame the Maloofs at all. And on that note, I no longer blame city officials. There is no doubt that they are acting in the interest of the majority of their population, which is sad but true. The people to blame are the same people that can be blamed for small business decline and Wal-Mart incline. The same people that believe "Reality Show" is a literal term. The gullible masses that base decisions and opinions on little to no fact as they stuff their faces with McDonalds. It's a sad state that this country is in and it's finding it's way into even our most hollowed traditions and entertainment. I blame Bonds.

bh said...

Sorry, Oz. I don't want you to think I meant a tax could hurt. A tax will hurt. Maybe in only a small way, but it will hurt.

I'm thinking you might be overestimating the Kings as a tourist attraction. A downtown arena, in and of itself, will not create any more tourism in Sacramento. Even if you were to tell me that 70% of the fans attending a Kings game on one of the, at most, 50 games hosted in Sacramento each season, I might not be able to see how money being spent in one part of the city is better than money being spent in another. I would also argue that, being that downtown Sacramento hosts the Capitol and all of its department buildings, Sutter's Fort, and Old Sacramento, not to mention countless other attractions (ie. restaurants, hotels etc.) it's not really in need of an influx of tourist dollars. We're not talking about China Basin here.

bh said...

Even if you were to tell me that 70% of the fans attending a Kings game on one of the, at most, 50 games hosted in Sacramento each season, I might not be able to see how money being spent in one part of the city is better than money being spent in another.

I meant to write, "were from out of town," between "season" and "I." Ridiculous. As in, "you may ridicule me."

OZ said...

Saying that a downtown arena will not attract tourism is the worst argument I've ever you say about anything, ever. You can look across sports and see examples of what happens to areas after a new arena or stadium is put in. It's not purely the draw of the games (which 70% over 50 games even at the current Arco size is 595,000+ people spending an average of say $100 for food, cab fares, and drinks equals $59.5 million in revenues in one season. Including the increase in hotel rooms, which would probably be another $50 million easily, would make your ROI 5 years) it's the opportunity for Sacramento to climb out of the 3rd smallest market in the NBA. Sacramento is considered a farce too much of the East Coast as they don't consider department buildings, Sutter's Fort, and Old Sacramento draws for a fun filled Friday night. A downtown arena lends more legitimacy to Sacramento actually being the capitol of California, not being overshadowed by LA, therefore increasing year round growth in all industries, not just tourism.