SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – New reports surfaced Thursday about the Sacramento Kings possible relocation a day after one of the smallest crowds in years came out to watch the team’s second home game.
A Virginia newspaper reported that Kings ownership met with the Virginia governor about moving to Virginia Beach. The Kings had been linked to Virginia Beach this summer when the city announced it was exploring efforts to build a new sports arena.
Speculation about the Kings’ future in Sacramento has intensified after the Maloofs backed out of a deal to build a new downtown arena earlier this year.
The relocation speculation may be taking a toll on attendance. After a near sellout for the Kings’ home opener on Monday, Sleep Train Arena was only about half full on Wednesday for the Kings’ game against Detroit.
That might be the case again for Friday’s game against San Antonio. Tickets for the game are going cheap – just $10 for some listed on Stub Hub.
“There may have been 2,500 birthday parties last night that everybody had to go to,” Kings coach Keith Smart joked.
Coach Keith Smart may make light of it, but Wednesday night, in just the second game of the season, the Kings drew less fans than at any point last season. The paid attendance was 10,185. Their lowest home crowd all of last year was 11,105. For their second game last year, they drew 17,317.
“Obviously as a team you want to have fans there, but there are a lot of issues with our country as well,” Smart said.
It’s a stark departure from the Kings’ heyday earlier this decade when the maintained one of the longest sellout streaks in the NBA.
“This team sold out for 25 years with a losing team,” fan Doug Link said. “I just don’t think the ownership and players are vested in the community like they were in past years.”
New reports that Kings ownership has met with the Virginia governor about relocation may sink attendance numbers to new lows.
“The community doesn’t want to invest themselves emotionally if the team’s going to leave,” fan Steve Miller said. “I think that’s the reason you had the low turnout yesterday.”
But players and coaches say it’s about winning. If the kings improve, they say fans will show up.
“If we go on a winning streak, get more wins and more consistency it’s going to happen,” Kings forward Jason Thompson said.
The Kings will have the chance to show fans Friday night they are improved. They’re taking on the first-place place Spurs, already 4-1 on the young season.