Quick note on the NBA Board of Governors vote to decline relocation of the Sacramento Kings and what this means to hockey. First, everyone should know that the Arena doesn’t get built without an NBA team committed to Seattle. With no Arena, the NHL will not be an option.
Here are some common questions I get on the ruling and figured an FAQ format might be a good way to address everything.
Why did the NBA decline relocation if the Hansen deal and Seattle market is better than Sacramento? It mostly comes down to a sense of loyalty for existing teams + the city of Sacramento is publically funding 300M arena vs. the 144M in public loan being offered in Seattle. The Seattle deal sets a bad precedent for future owners wanting to arenas in their home city. I should also point out, just because there is a higher deal for a team, doesn’t mean you can move a team. I know it doesn’t seem fair considering our History with the NBA, but the league should try to keep teams in their cities.
Can Hansen and Ballmer go get an NHL team instead? Technically yes but the MOU with the city would need to be reworked. More importantly, Hansen and I assume Ballmer have no desire to own an NHL team. At least that is what Hansen has said publically.
Can someone else get an NHL team to start building the Arena? doubtful. The deal with the City and Hansen/Ballmer group calls for an NBA team. Considering Hansen owns the land and he has all the Construction financing lined up the thought of them going forward with no guarantee of an NBA team seems highly unlikely.
What about NBA relocation? Relocation has been tossed around but I do not think it is an option. The NBA won’t come out and say this but they have a parity problem and it is speculated that it is a player pool issue. I can’t get into it here but it is because there is a limit on the number of tall people that tend to be good basketball players. This isn’t to say small people can’t succeed, it is just on average tall people dominate the NBA.
What’s next? That is the million or should I say $500Million question. Milwaukee is the next franchise with a target on their back and we will hear plenty of news about them in the next 8 months. They need a new arena and even if they do not intend to move them I am sure there will be a constant threat to move the team. This is how the game is played to get as much money out of cities as possible.
What happens if the Sacramento deal blows up? There are lawsuits, bonding issues and some EIS that could blow this thing up in Sacramento. It really won’t matter since the new owners will need to deal with it making relocation unlikely.
What about Levin’s plan in Bellevue? Unfortunately, Levin needs to sit back and let Hansen/Ballmer thing play out before he can pursue his plan which is said to abandon some time ago. Even though Levin was ahead of Hansen, Hansen has all the momentum and Levin would be viewed as obstructing brining the Sonics back. Anything Levin does will probably need to be supported by Hansen to make sure he has public support.