Life after the Sacramento Kings

After this past week’s announcement that the Maloof family has made a binding agreement to sell the Sacramento Kings to new owners who aim to move the franchise to Seattle, it’s likely that the team will at last be moving on.

Though we’d love the Kings to remain in the River City—and Mayor Kevin Johnson still hopes to corral deep pockets to buy the Kings and keep them here—we continue to have serious problems with using hundreds of millions of public dollars to finance an arena.

Ultimately, it now seems the time for Sacramento to actively—if behind the scenes—start preparing for life after the Kings.

Foremost, City Manager John Shirey must ensure that the $64 million (plus interest) the Maloofs owe Sacramento is paid back. The city does not want to, say, be stuck with the former Arco Arena building, surrounding land and a $25 million ownership share of the Seattle Supersonics in lieu of payment.

The city also needs to rethink downtown’s future. For years, the Kings and a new arena were the heart of City Hall’s vision for a revitalized downtown. But the loss of the team shouldn’t mean doom and gloom. It’s an opportunity for new ideas and to refocus on the intermodal-transit station, the 700 block of K Street, the return of streetcars, and investment in more urban housing.

We will miss pro basketball if it does in fact leave town. But the NBA mustn’t define Sacramento: We get to do that for ourselves.