All signs are that the Sacramento Kings‘ move to Anaheim is falling apart, even after getting a two-week extension on submitting their relocation plan to the NBA. According to Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick:
Sources say the Anaheim presentation given at the meetings was as ineffective as Johnson’s was impactful, and there is serious doubt as to whether there will be enough support to warrant the Maloofs filing for relocation (a majority vote is needed to approve a move when a team files).
Specifically, a source with knowledge of the proposal revealed that the television rights riches that had long been seen as a major motivating factor for the Maloofs aren’t quite as lucrative as they had hoped. … The plan as presented in New York included a possible partnership worth $20 million annually with KDOC, an Orange County-based, independent television station that is co-owned by the very man working so hard to make this move happen. Anaheim Ducks owner Henry Samueli, who operates the Honda Center where the Maloofs’ team would play and has already committed $50 million through city bonds to help cover their cost of relocation, reportedly teamed with Bert Ellis to pay $149.5 million for the station in 2006.
In other words, part of the deal for the Kings to move to Anaheim would be to give their new landlord a cut-rate TV deal, far below what league officials were figuring the Kings could earn from Fox Sports West, which was recently spurned by the Los Angeles Lakers. Amick notes that this could help explain NBA commissioner David Stern’s recent remarks that one reason for extending the relocation application deadline until May 2 was concern over “certain areas having to do with the contractual relationship between Mr. Samueli’s organization and the Kings, having to do with the building, having to do [with] television revenue.”
Meanwhile, a Sacramento group is expected to soon have enough signatures to force a $75 million Anaheim bond sale for arena upgrades to a public referendum, which couldn’t happen until 2012. The Kings and Samueli could then try to find an alternate way of raising the up-front cash, but as we’ve seen before, finding financing structures that work can be tricky — which is, no doubt, why they proposing using city of Anaheim bonds.
Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof are still reportedly planning to file for relocation on May 2, but it’s hard to see that happening if the writing is on the wall that the NBA won’t approve a move until more is known about both Samueli’s role (including that possibly never-signed lease) and the possibility of a local Sacramento buyer. This isn’t necessarily a disaster for the Maloofs, the Kings, or the NBA — as I’ve said before, the whole point of a move threat is to play two cities off against each other in bidding for the rights to host your team, and that certainly seems to be happening here. But it could make for a long, ugly maybe-lame-duck season in Sacramento for the Kings next season — if there is a season.