Kings sale: Virginia Beach, Anaheim, Sacramento all lost when dealing with Maloofs

Ethan Miller

The Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings, have flirted with a number of cities as the franchise has floundered in California's capital.

If the Sacramento Kings are indeed headed for a deal to land in Seattle, it'll be the first successful match after many failed relationships, so to speak.

The Sacramento Bee, among others, reports that the team has yet to strike a deal with a Seattle ownership group. And history shows that when dealing with the Maloof family, it's wise to never jump to conclusions. The owners of the Kings have a history of flirting with other cities, only to decide a deal is off.

After all, the team has been searching for a more permanent home since 2006, according to this timeline provided by the Sacramento Bee.

Most recently, the city of Virginia Beach spent $1.2 million in proposal money as it looked to build an oceanfront arena complex for an unnamed NBA franchise that was involved in talks, according to The Virginian-Pilot. That franchise was reportedly the Kings, who on Wednesday were set on working out a deal to send the franchise to Seattle, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms remained hopeful on Wednesday that the city and the NBA team would resume talks, but the deal is currently at a standstill.

"The city doesn't see a clear opportunity at this point and, as such, it's not something we're aggressively going after," Mayor Will Sessoms said Tuesday. "The city is kind of withdrawing. We're not doing anymore consultants, lawyers or lobbying."

A lure for an NBA franchise was planned around a budget that included a $241 million commitment from the city, $150 million from the state and $35 million from sports and entertainment company Comcast-Spectacor. The city had spent months secretly paying consultants and planners to work out the deal, and city attorney Mark Stiles actually apologized for it, adding that Virginia Beach should have voted publicly before spending the money, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Last month, the city council voted 9-2 to continue planning for an NBA franchise.

Del. Ron Villanueva, who supported the arena, drafted legislation to gain financial support from the state, but said it hurt that the NBA team remained unnamed.

The Maloofs were also quiet in dealing with Anaheim, CA, though the city was more open in its attempts to draw the Kings specifically. Though Henry Samueli's Honda Center is used by the NHL's Anaheim Ducks, he broke ground on a $20 million project for a Grand Terrace upgrade to the facility in hopes of bringing another NBA franchise to outhern California, according to The Orange County Register.

Samueli reportedly had spent $60 million on upgrades to help his chances at landing an NBA team, though he said he was hopeful in getting one whether it be the Kings or otherwise.

Even in Sacramento, the Maloofs were never pleased with any arena proposals. After striking down one in 2006, NBA commissioner David Stern began helping the team look for new arena plans. But the NBA eventually pulled out of helping the Kings, and in March of 2012, it appeared the team would finally have a home.

Arena operating company AEG and the Maloofs appeared set on a $391 million deal that was backed by Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. The city would have paid $255.5 million, the Kings would have helped with $73.25 million, and AEG would have spent $58.75 million, but the Maloofs eventually backed out because of details that accounted for approximately one percent of the total cost, according to ESPN.

It ruffled both Johnson and Stern's feathers:

"I think it's fair for the Maloofs to say they don't want to do that," Stern said during a news conference after two days of owners' meetings. "If they had done it simpler, earlier or more directly, it could have saved a lot of angst and trouble."

So now the wait is on in Seattle, where an ownership group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer must find out if they can jostle the Kings free of Sacramento and the Maloofs.

Whether or not it's another false flirtation remains to be seen.

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