It is hard for me to believe that once again the Sacramento Kings are in danger of leaving SacTown, but this situation has deteriorated to the point where Kings fans, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (former Phoenix Suns star) have had to rally annually to keep their Kings in Cali. The big thing/difference this time is that the Maloof family has a deal with a buyer that is going to buy 65% of the team (for approx $345 million) and that group is rumored to be set on moving the Kings to Seattle to become the second coming of the Seattle SuperSonics.
I say this is hard for me to believe despite the fact that this Kings team has been in potential trouble for a while now because I grew up with the Sleep Train Arena being called Arco Arena, and the Kings fans in Arco were awesome (for a long time too). The Kings have been in Sacramento for 28 seasons, and despite being good for only about five of those seasons they still sold out a whopping 19 years. Wow. The first seven seasons of the 2000s were sold out at Arco (and the atmosphere was awesome), but things have taken a dramatic turn.
Check these declining ticket sales in the 2000s: Sold out 2000 through 2007 at 17,317 ticket sales per game, but the last six seasons have seen the Kings average just 13,597 tickets sold and they have been in the bottom four in the NBA for attendance in all six of those seasons (Kings were last for attendance twice during that span including 30th currently for this season). In the last few years only home openers and big name teams coming to town have earned sellouts in Sacramento, and so far this season only the home opener produced a 17,317 sellout.
There are still a ton of loyal Kings fans in Sacramento, and the city feels that they still have a chance to retain the team because they have rallied local businesses (plus prominent Sacramento lawyers are working pro bono) and they are planning to put together a proposal to buy the team and keep it in Sacramento. The Maloofs have a deal in place already with the Seattle group, but it will likely not be finalized until the NBA owners meeting in April and in the meantime the Maloofs are able to field/entertain other offers. We could see a major date come before that owners meeting though as March 1 is that last date to apply to move a franchise for the following season. We have seen the NBA give extensions on this before so I cannot say the March 1st date is set in stone.
It looks to me that the Kings will move to Seattle, but if/when that does happen I do hope that Sacramento will find themselves on a short list for an expansion team as they could be in a position to build a new arena in a few years plus I would love to see Sacramento home games become spectacles again.