VA Beach mayor: Give me team by Monday or I take my ball and go home

Okay, so now Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms says he not only wants an NBA team to commit to moving there before he’ll build an arena, but he wants the commitment by Monday. Yes, this Monday:

“We have a timeline that is right upon us to go to state to ask for a substantial amount of money,” Sessoms said. “We are not going to go up there and make a fool of ourselves. I need to know something by Monday.

“I don’t want to be wasting people’s time or my time if we are not going to bring some conclusion to these negotiations quickly.”

Hearing this, I’m officially taking my money off of “hoping desperately to shake loose a commitment from theSacramento Kings that he can take to the state legislature” and putting it on “setting ridiculous deadlines so that when the arena deal crashes and burns even more than it has already, he can blame Comcast for not getting a team instead of himself for not having any idea how to pay for the damn thing.”Monday. Sheesh.

The less-likely, still crazy interpretation is that maybe Sessoms knows that the Kings owners are close to a deal to move to a Virginia Beach arena if one gets built, and is trying to get them to sign on the dotted line already. (Or that one Maloof brother is ready to sign and another isn’t, say.) Still, the notion that whatever’s keeping the Maloofs from moving to Virginia Beach is likely to be wiped away by an abrupt deadline would be … I already said “crazy,” so let’s go with “speculative.”

15 comments on “VA Beach mayor: Give me team by Monday or I take my ball and go home

  1. I’ll go with “Pretty Freaking (or something) Unlikely.”

    But, like I said, the Maloofs are very well known for including many, many out-clauses in their “contracts”, so you can never be 100% certain. This is what great developers, like George Maloof, do (that was sarcasm, by the way).

    I honestly don’t think the Maloofs care about what happens to ticket sales from here on out. Ticket sales improved the year after they tried to move to Anaheim, and I imagine they’ve already sold at least 90% of what they were going to sell this year anyway. They’re 29th in attendance; how can they possibly hurt their sales any more?

    I think what this new deadline reflects is that the Maloofs have an agreement in place, and VB City officials are waiting for the Maloofs to sign off on the deal. The contracts are done; this is just Sessom’s way to get an answer out of the Maloofs. One of the out clauses will be regarding the $150M, for sure.

  2. And, don’t look now, but Chris Hansen just purchased another parcel of land for his proposed Sodo arena. So far, he’s spent $56M to buy land for an arena in Seattle.

    One thing a local Kings fan blog said was that it was unlikely the NBA would leave both Seattle and Sacramento without a team, while awarding VB one. Considering the relative size of these three markets, I think there’s some logic to that argument. We’ll almost certainly know in the next 3 weeks if it’s Seattle, Sac or VB. I’m on pins and needles.

  3. Hansen knows one of the sticking points is that for things involving public money they’re supposed to compare different sites vs no build for environmental impact. Hansen had to buy money to create a site, otherwise it was two city blocks with 6 different property owners and a city street going right through the center. If he wanted that location to be strongly considered by any third party he needed to create an arena footprint/show it was available.

  4. Sure, I can see that. But $56M is an awful lot of money to spend. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t feeling good about my chances. If there’s no arena there, he’s not getting that $56M back. Sure, he’ll get some back; like 40% of it.

    The Longshoreman suit is scheduled to be heard in February. My guess is that if Hansen “settled out of court”, that suit would never go to trial.

    Longshoremen: It’s our money, and we want it now!

  5. I think the ILWU suit was filed against the city and county though, no laws require the developer/Hansen to evaluate other sites… they do require the city/county to do so with public funds.

  6. It ain’t looking too hot for the Kings staying in Sacramento. Is there any hope for the team not relocating, or did that- having an arena deal and then not having an arena deal- deal, blow it for Sacramento? I tend to think it did, but with owners acting as bizarre as the Maloof’s almost always have, then it’s harder to say. It was pretty straight forward when the Hornets moved to New Orleans, or when Seattle left. “Give us an arena, or else.” With the Maloof’s it’s “give us a new arena in Sacramento, and we’ll leave anyway.” Or, “don’t give us a new arena, and we might think about leaving.” If I had to place a bet, I would bet that this is the final season for the Kings in Sacramento. VB will be off the table soon, and that leaves Seattle if it can get it together, or (and perhaps more likely) someone else will come out of the blue, and sweep the team away, a-la Memphis with the Grizzlies. I would rank the top five as: Louisville, Kansas City, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach, but what do I know?

  7. @Mike

    I’d wipe out KC or Pittsburgh. 2 teams is enough for KC and 3 is enough for Pittsburgh. Ironically, both markets are smaller than one horse town Sacramento. If KC were a desireable market, somebody would’ve moved there by now but AEG seems to like it the way it is as the building is profitable without an anchor tenant.

    If the Maloofs actually keep the team then it’s down to VB and Louisville. Louisville rumors were all over the place before the Anaheim talks heated up so I could see them making another run if VB falls apart.

    More likely, it’s going to be a sale of the team and the broke Maloofs are going to go with the highest bidder.

  8. Don’t forget Columbus. They have Nationwide Arena being used (or not used) by the Blue Jackets and their only other pro sport is MLS.

  9. “If I had to place a bet, I would bet that this is the final season for the Kings in Sacramento.”

    I’d take that bet, if only because the other options remain so weak. Virginia Beach is a relatively lousy market with no arena funding plan to speak of, Seattle would require a sale by the Maloofs that they’re refusing to consider, Kansas City has an arena manager with no incentive to offer a sweetheart deal to an NBA team, Pittsburgh is tiny and has never had a successful basketball franchise. Anaheim is off the table because the Lakers and Clippers would demand a ton of money. Las Vegas isn’t going to be okayed by the NBA anytime soon. That leaves Louisville, which I guess is a possibility, but I have a hard time seeing the Maloofs settling on there by the March 1 deadline.

    A Kings move by 2014, I could see. 2015, absolutely. But there are too many balls in the air right now for me to think a move for 2013 is anything more than a longshot — unless the Maloofs are so pressed for cash that they say to Hansen, “Give us $500m and it’s yours,” and Hansen takes them up on it.

  10. Has the coconut-telegraph been ringing again?

  11. VB Mayor Sessoms announced today that an announcement will come Tuesday. I can only think this means a deal is close.

  12. According to the WAVY website, Mayor Sessoms and Comcast-Spectacor’s Peter Luukko will release a joint statement tomorrow.

    Given that this will be a joint statement, it seems to me that the odds just swung in favor of a signed agreement. Why would it be a joint statement if the two parties were to say, “We tried and failed”?

    But as I noted earlier, the Maloofs will never sign an agreement with many out clauses in it. So if there is an agreement, it won’t be iron-clad.

  13. Don’t know if the coconut-telegraph has been ringing again hahahaha! But does the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena owner Francesco Aquilini knows something that we don’t know and he can’t say it publicly? Could he be working behind the scenes? Who knows. We’ll just have to see what unfolds……or not.