Editor’s Note: Updated 3:30 p.m. PST
by Jonathan Santiago / @itsJONsantiago
It’s official – the Kings will play next season in Sacramento.
The OC Register first reported it, confirming with sources within Anaheim Arena Management. The Sacramento Bee and Sports Illustrated followed up with confirmations from George Maloof and Gavin Maloof, respectively.
The Kings released this official statement this morning:
“Out of respect to Kings fans and the regional business community, we have decided to remain in Sacramento for the 2011-12 season. The fans’ spirit and energy, specifically our season ticket holders, has been remarkable and we are truly thankful for their loyalty. We also are greatly appreciative of the support from our corporate sponsors as well as other local businesses that have come forward in recent weeks.
Additionally, we would like to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt thank you to the loyal and hardworking team members within our organization. From the game night staff to the front office, coaches, and players, we are grateful for their professionalism and devotion.
During this process, Mayor Johnson has strongly indicated to both the community and the NBA that he is capable of getting the support to build a state-of-the-art entertainment and sports facility that the Sacramento Region and the tremendous Kings fans so rightly deserve. We look forward to seeing Mayor Johnson bring his vision to reality. However, if an arena plan cannot be finalized in a timely fashion, the NBA¹s relocation committee has assured Maloof Sports and Entertainment that it will support an application to move the franchise to another market starting in 2012-13.”
Meanwhile in Anaheim, Michael Schulman, chairman of the company that operates the Honda Center, issued the following statement.
“We are disappointed in today’s developments but remain very optimistic about the long-term future of the NBA in Anaheim. We wish the Maloof family and City of Sacramento well and hope they are successful in their endeavors. Since we began working toward bringing an NBA franchise to Orange County, we have maintained that this process is about getting a team for the fans, as basketball is a sport loved by Southern Californians. With the nation’s second most populous region, one which serves as home to nearly the same number of people as the entire state of Texas, we are continuing our pursuit of an NBA team for our venue. Southern California has long proved its ability to support major league sports franchises, yet both of our area basketball teams share an arena in the northern-most part of the region. If an NBA franchise came to Anaheim, nearly 10 million people will have greater access to regularly attend professional basketball games due to the location of Honda Center. Recently listed as one of the five most successful arenas in North America (along with Staples Center), Honda Center is without question a leader in the industry. With that in mind, our pursuit continues and we look forward to securing a franchise for area fans in the very near future.”
Anaheim’s mayor Tom Tait also issued a statement with his reaction to the Kings news.
“Anaheim remains an NBA-ready city,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait. “We are proud of the work that was done to bring an NBA team to Anaheim’s Honda Center. In particular, we protected the city’s taxpayers and the city’s finances from any risk by using private, not public, funds in the financing.
“As confirmed by NBA Commissioner David Stern, this process has shown that Anaheim/Orange County is a stand-alone market. With more than 3 million residents, Orange County is its own region – not a suburb. We believe that there should be more than one venue in southern California to enjoy NBA basketball.
“Though we are disappointed at today’s announcement, we respect this business decision. I am grateful to the Maloofs for their strong interest in Anaheim and Orange County. I want to thank my colleagues on the city council, the city staff and Anaheim Arena Management for their commitment to this effort. I especially want to thank Henry and Susan Samueli for their passion and dedication to Anaheim and Orange County.
“The bottom line is this: The final chapter has not been written. Anaheim/Orange County is ripe for the NBA and we offer an incredibly attractive package to any team. As a world-class sports and entertainment destination, Anaheim will continue to move forward and we remain optimistic to one day welcoming professional basketball to Anaheim.”
Commissioner David Stern conducted a conference call with media this afternoon. Here is his opening statement:
Having trouble playing? Listen here.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson along with several other speakers are addressed the media and public from City Hall today. Here is KJ’s opening statement:
Having trouble playing? Listen here.
Meanwhile, current and former Kings players are reacting to the news via Twitter.
Follow this news post for continued updates from throughout the afternoon.