NBA’s Kings Staying in Sacramento for 2011-12 Season

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After months of speculation, the Sacramento Kings decided on May 2 they’re going to keep the NBA franchise in Sacramento for at least one more season. This will give Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson the chance to prove he’s a man of his word and deliver a new arena for them to play in.

After failing to get a new venue in Sacramento, the Kings were thinking about heading over to Anaheim, Calif. But after thinking about it long and hard, they decided to stay put and give Johnson another shot.

Joe Maloof, one of the Kings owners, told the league’s relocation committee that Johnson promised to have plans for a new arena within the next year. He said if Johnson doesn’t come through then the Kings will head out of town.

Maloof and the other Kings owners were supposed to inform the NBA by May 2nd if they wanted to relocate the team and then ask for the league’s permission. But the former basketball player Johnson was adamant at keeping them in Sacramento. He gathered about $10 million in pledges from corporate sponsors in an effort to convince the Kings to stay.

The City of Sacramento is supposed to study the feasibility of a new arena later in May. Many residents are against building one if it’s going to cost the taxpayers, but Kings fans naturally, are all for it.

Several California lawmakers contacted NBA boss David Stern and said they’d work with local officials in Sacramento in the upcoming months to try and build a new performing arts and sports complex as a replacement to the current outdated arena.

Maloof said the club has waited for years for a new arena and has spent millions of dollars, but it’s up to Johnson and other officials to come up with a good plan and then pull it off.  However, he wants fans and politicians to know there’s a sense of urgency in the matter and said the NBA has already said it would support the team moving for 2012-13 if things can’t be worked out in Sacramento.

Maloof didn’t say if they would move to Anaheim team if it relocated though. He did thank the city’s officials for their encouragement and support and said he’s sure there will be a team in Anaheim one day.

Sacramento used to be an NBA hotspot and had sellout strings of 354 and 497 games in the past at the Arco Arena. But the city has been hit hard with job losses and budget deficits and both the fan’s interest and the team have declined over the years.

The Honda Center in Anaheim is ready for a team and comes with great sightlines and luxury suites, but the LA Lakers and Clippers compete in the same local market. Maloof felt he owed it to the fans to give it a little more time and it’ll be interesting to see how the team is supported next season. However, it’ll be interesting to see how everything turns out if the NBA locks its players out this season.