3 NBA Teams A Crowd?

With the possibility of the Sacramento Kings moving to Orange County, thus giving the Southern California market three NBA teams, some have begun asking if the market can support them. Orange County officials certainly think so, but apparently not AEG President/CEO Tim Leiweke.

“As we all know, Orange County is different,” Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said after announcing his city would OK $75 million in lease-revenue bonds to entice the Kings to move south. Should the team make the move, it would join the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers within a 40-mile radius. A traffic-congested, 40-mile radius.

“You go up to L.A. for a game, it can take you two hours. … Orange County is 3 million people. If you add people from the Inland Empire, north San Diego County, that’s millions more, maybe 5-6 million. It’s a big area. We’ve been trying to get an NBA team in Orange County for 20 years,” Tait said.

Leiweke begs to differ.

“I know they see that as the land of dreams,” Leiweke said. “I think they are inspired by being part of the Hollywood scene. But Orange County is not Hollywood, and what they’re going to learn pretty quickly is it’s the most competitive marketplace in the United States today, and it’s going to get even more competitive in the future. I think it’s unfortunate that they’re not taking a look at a place like Kansas City. But they’re not.”

Of course, AEG opened the Sprint Center in Kansas City more than three years ago, and it’s still looking for a professional sports anchor tenant.

“But they won’t talk to us,” Leiweke said of the Kings, and presumably of owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. “I think you can pretty well assume they’re going to Anaheim. I think that’s a foregone conclusion,” Leiweke said.