John Hollinger's Insider column today drops something of a speculation bomb:
Was Seattle just the tip of the iceberg?
That's what one has to wonder given the state of the economy and the multiple gleaming, empty stadiums lying in wait in alternate markets. Already rumors are multiplying by the day about the Kings being courted by Anaheim or San Jose -- both of whom have available buildings -- while Kansas City also sports a shiny new building in search of a tenant.
That has to get your attention these days if you're a fan of the Kings, obviously, but also if you root for a team like Milwaukee, Memphis, New Jersey or New Orleans. Even in the best of times those outfits struggle to turn a profit, and these are not the best of times. Milwaukee and New Jersey are going to need new buildings to stay put for long, Memphis is being held in place solely by its lease agreement, while New Orleans can theoretically become portable if the cash-strapped state of Louisiana can't find the money it guaranteed the team when it moved from Charlotte.
The prominent mention of places like Anaheim and San Jose in pursuit of the Kings -- as opposed to someplace like Las Vegas, where the Maloof brothers have a casino -- illustrates another point. With financing for new arenas hard to come by in the current economy -- via either public or private money -- places with existing venues suddenly have a huge leg up in the relocation game. That not only makes strong players of places like Anaheim and San Jose, but could potentially even bring some dark horses with viable buildings -- Vancouver? St. Louis? -- back into the fold.
UPDATE: Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee has more on the situation in Sacramento. The Kings are blatantly having money trouble, and Mark Cuban weighs in with some thoughts about the big picture economics at play.