Fun while it lasted

Reading R.V. Scheide’s feature story this week, “Kings’ ransom,” I couldn’t help thinking that Sacramento is like a guy overwrought because of his really popular but really high-maintenance girlfriend. (Or his popular, high-maintenance boyfriend, if you prefer.)

Yeah, this person is cute, in that superficial, high-maintenance sort of way. And they like to party, so that’s all good. But you know it’s a lopsided relationship, and there’s just not much of a future there.

Just like you know the Kings are going to leave, sooner or later. The question is what Sacramento gets out of it in the meantime and what the city’s willing to do to keep it going a little longer. If you’d like to read a much more cogent and thoughtful analysis of Sacramento’s crush on the Kings, do yourself a favor and read R.V.’s story.

It used to be that public financing of arenas was sold on the idea that these facilities brought jobs and economic prosperity to a region. It took a while for folks to catch on to that particular bill of goods. Today, it’s fashionable to justify such subsidies by saying they will help with the host government’s efforts to revitalize its downtown.

That seems pretty debatable in this case, too. The team owners already have demanded a sterile zone around the arena, aimed at sucking people in, taking their money, and spitting them out again as quickly as possible. As R.V. notes, you can’t really blame them for making demands that are at odds with the city’s interests. They have their own interests to look after. But it seems to me that if you’re going to build a major part of your town’s future around a particular enterprise, you could come up with a less fickle and manipulative partner than a pro-sports team.

The folks who have put Measures Q and R together are trying to assure the public that the public, not the Maloofs, is calling the shots in this particular relationship. It’s going to take every day left in this campaign, and every dollar in their considerable ad budget, to convince us of that.

For my part, I’d be sad to see the Kings go, sort of. As with all lopsided relationships, I know this one’s days are numbered anyway. It was fun while it lasted.