SACRAMENTO, CA - With plenty of commercial space already seeking tenants in shopping centers surrounding Sleep Train Arena, some say the last thing the local economy needs is to lose it's only professional sports team; a possible relocation for the Sacramento Kings could be a major hit for area businesses small and large.
"There are people that come into town that stay the night in hotels, and certainly the visiting teams have an impact when they stay in hotels. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on area hotels," Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson Mike Testa said. "A lot of these folks will go out to dinner before a game. They'll go get a drink after a game, so the impact on businesses, especially around the arena is significant."
The stakes are even higher than the impact on existing businesses. Testa points out that the promotional value of having an NBA team should not be underestimated.
"When the team is doing well, it makes Sacramento look like a fun place," Testa said. "We're on national TV. The bumper shots between commercials are of the Tower Bridge and other landmarks, so it's really an advertising postcard for this community when the team does well, and they're on TV."
The downside of the Kings leaving is pretty clear, but if a sale of the team kept the Kings in Sacramento, some say that could be the better scenario than the status quo.
Local leaders said the only certain thing is that the Kings are for sale, but even if the team is sold, that doesn't necessarily mean it has to leave Sacramento.
Not everyone is sad to hear the Kings are for sale. California Senator Darell Steinberg said he supports efforts to put together a team with local investors to buy the team from the Maloof family.
"Because obviously the marriage between the family and the Sacramento community is not good, some might say it's irretrievably broken, and so we need new owners, and here may be an opportunity to do so," Steinberg said.
That's the plan Mayor Kevin Johnson outlined on Wednesday when he said the for sale status had finally become public.
"If you remember the San Francisco model, you remember the Giants, many of you remember the Giants. When they were being discussed about going to Florida, a local group came together, and they said, we can partner with people who have money that aren't from the Bay Area, but there's going to be a local presence. That will be the model that we're going to explore here in Sacramento," Johnson explained.
The mayor said multiple groups of investors have expressed interest, but he wasn't willing to identify them.
Meanwhile, grassroots efforts to keep the Kings in Sacramento are getting public encouragement from companies like Jiffy Lube, which tweeted a willingness to invest 1 percent of the cost of a new arena. Johnson said he was open to a combination of local and outside investment.
"We want folks who are here every day. They go to the business chamber. They go to all the community meetings. They are a part of this community full-time, and that's going to be very important for us, when we think as a city for key criteria," Johnson said.
MORE: Petition to NBA Commissioner David Stern
Investors aren't the only ones jockeying for influence in a potential deal. Fans have started an online petition on change.org to convince NBA Commissioner David Stern to allow a Sacramento buyer to match any offer for the Sacramento Kings, and give Seattle an expansion team.