Kings introduce Shaq as co-owner, “indoor-outdoor” arena, and other outsized ideas

Saving the craziest for last, the Sacramento Kings‘ new owner is … Shaquille O’Neal? Yes, the guy who once called the team the “Queens” when he was on the rival Los Angeles Lakers. And O’Neal was in midseason form at his first press conference:

O’Neal praised the proposed downtown arena as a massive job creator that would put Sacramento on the map. He said the facility would be the world’s “first cash-less arena,” where fans would be able to use their smart phones to buy tickets, find the concession stands and even “the bathrooms with the smallest lines.

“As long as you’ve got a phone, you can get in,” he said. “It’s all 21st-century stuff.”

Actually, the San Francisco 49ers are already doing that bathroom line phone app thing, so it’ll almost certainly make it to other NBA arenas before Sacramento’s, but hey, you go tell Shaq that he’s wrong.

Meanwhile, Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive has his own hype machine going full blast, promising a new era for the NBA by putting games on TV in his native India (“There’s a billion people in India – there’s going to be a lot of people watching”), and saying the new building will “be the first basketball arena that has this indoor-outoor feature to it. For concerts and other events, you could actually completely open it up and have 18,000 people inside and another 10,000 people outside.” Yet another part-owner, Mark Mastrov, told the Sacramento Bee that this could involve sliding glass walls to allow people outside to peer in, or maybe giant TV screens outside, or god knows, since the designs aren’t finalized. But whatever, it’s going to be big. You know, like Shaq.

23 comments on “Kings introduce Shaq as co-owner, “indoor-outdoor” arena, and other outsized ideas

  1. This is really what we’ve come to as people? “That place is great, I can find a bathroom with my phone.”

  2. Arco arena is sssooo old and its time the Kings get a new arena near the downtown Sacramento site. Im so excited about the future of the kings. New ownership, management and players… just have to get through the anti sports people and with our small public funding we will finally see the Kings arena come to light…

  3. Not everyone has a smart phone and not everyone has credit cards – are we to be excluded from attending events at the new arena if it is built?

  4. Hasn’t Shaq said repeatedly that he wants to bring an NBA team back to his hometown (Newark, NJ)? There’s a SOTA arena, a regional network without any winter programming – is there any chance his jumping at this opportunity is just to wait it out until the Sacramento arena deal inevitably falls through? (Disclaimer: I am a still-bitter New Jersey Nets fan).

  5. How in the world do they build that for $448M? Sounds like a bait-and-switch to me; “Well, sure, we can build a basic arena for $448M. But you don’t want a basic arena, do you. I didn’t think so. For just $100M more, we can REALLY put Sacramento on the map.”

  6. I may be wrong, but I kinda doubt Ranadive owns the TV rights for India. The rest of the league may have something to say about that idea.

    And “berry”, one more time: We’re NOT “anti sports people”. We’re “people (many of us ‘sports people’) who believe sports people should pay for their own stadiums and arenas”.

  7. Yeah, there’s really no way Ranadive and the Kings are granted India. If they were, it would certainly eliminate the need for any public subsidy in Sacramento. I’m thinking you take whatever number and divide by 30.

  8. I agree with Keith 100%. Vivek’s claim of an Indian TV windfall is questionable in a few ways: (1) it would be the NBA’s call on pursuing new television deals overseas; (2) about half of Indian households own a television, so the market size, while huge, is not a billion people; and (3) if basketball were able to eat into some of cricket’s and soccer’s (and, apparently, tennis’) market share, how many viewers are going to pursue the Kings simply because of their owner’s ethnicity rather than following superstar players on other teams? I can see kids in Mumbai wearing LBJ jerseys. Vivek or Cousins jerseys? Not so much.

    Berry’s “small public funding” argument hits at the core of why some pro-sports people (myself included) are skeptical of of potential boondoggles like the proposed downtown arena in Sacramento. A cursory view (from a source other than the Bee) of the financing figures does not make the public’s contribution appear small: roughly $250 million before accounting for cost overruns or overly-optimistic projections of new revenue streams. That money is a direct gift to the owners at the cost of being able to use it for alternative means (e.g., police, schools, taxpayers’ own bank accounts), with little tangible benefit.

  9. I’m pretty sure that NBA has been broadcasted in India since the mid 90s. Initially it was ESPN India and the FOX Sports India channel(Star Sports). Every national primetime broadcast was available on one of the two as well as All-Star games and playoffs. I believe its current rights are with Sony’s Sports channel(MAX or Six) and Ten Sports. There’s nothing new here unless Vivek plans to broadcast all the Kings games in India (which I am not sure helps at this point :P)

  10. If we were to let the Indian free market decide which team among the 30 they’d watch, my guess is that their top 5 teams would be pretty much identical to our top 5 teams. I don’t know why you’d let one of our least-popular sports franchises have exclusive access to any foreign market.

  11. Here’s how I find restrooms: I look for the signs. When it gets to a point where we need an app to find a restroom inside an arena, I’d say they probably just need more restrooms.

  12. @ keith and Sean
    Hahahaha. lets not go back and forth. At the end of the day the Kings will get their 250 mil from the city of Sacramento… the key for Sacramento is to plan well and make sure they can get some of their investment back whether its a convention center or having city meeting and functions also at the new Kings arena… besides that the booo-hooing over taxpayer money is always laughable because a lot of you don’t know where your tax dollars go to…. anyway have a good day.

  13. The main question is, will people in India CARE about the NBA?

    They put European soccer on in America, but because of the time of the matches and the lack of regional identity to teams, few people care. Plus, because the times of matches and availability are sporadic, it’s hard to get attached.

    Basketball in India is played in most of the high schools, colleges and universities

    It sounds to me like the larger problem being how the government is used to running teams. That’s a big NBA hangup.

  15. I think we can all agree that a bond is really just a loan that is backed by some sort of asset; bonds against arena revenue suggests that there will be revenue from an arena.

    That said, I still don’t believe they’ll be able to include any value from the parking meters when they go to sell those bonds, since parking meter revenue can’t go towards an arena. My source: The Sacramento City Charter.

    Does anyone think the bonds sold will go to provide any sort of parking service? Not that I know of. If they say it is, that’s just money laundering.

  16. @Stephen

    I think part of Shaq’s willingness to buy a share of the Kings probably stems from the fact that he won’t be able to get a team in Newark. The Knicks or Nets have the rights to the NJ market now and won’t give it up at any rights plus the league doesn’t want a 3rd team in the tri state region.

  17. Careful Roger. More than a few people care about European soccer. While TV numbers are a fraction of what the major sports here draw, the popularity of the Euro leagues is growing by almost any measure (ratings, dollars paid for rights packages, number of channels showing games, number of jerseys on people out and about, number of bars showing games). Moreover, some of us consider the game times to be ideal. I wake up on a Saturday, watch my team; game takes just under two hours almost without exception, and by about 11 am (sometimes earlier) my day is completely open.

    Of course other times I’m drunk by 11 am and my day is shot so I just plow through with another six hours of college football, but that’s more about my bad life choices than anything else.

  18. The mayor’s former aide has written a book.

    Before I reveal the URL, ask yourself a question: When is it ever a good development when a former aide writes a book? What’s the last time that happened?

    So here you go:

  19. Get real guys, soccer is not going to become very popular in America unless the rules change. That’s a fact. Also, just because a sport is played in a country, doesn’t mean it will be popular there. Soccer is huge in American youth leagues, but the MLS is barely surviving, for example. Why are people obsessed with cheering on the underdog in spite of the overwhelming odds?

  20. “Get real guys, soccer is not going to become very popular in America unless the rules change.”

    I suggest alligator pits.

  21. Not sure I can have a meaningful debate with someone who doesn’t know the difference between an opinion and a fact.

  22. Marcos Breton gives us a point-by-point analysis of why the “naysayers” in Sacramento are so wrong:

    Except, I think someone could offer a point-by-point explanation of how many errors there are in that article.