Local News

One fewer city is pursuing an NBA franchise.

Virginia Beach’s mayor said Tuesday that the city is “withdrawing” from efforts to build an 18,500 seat arena in the community with an NBA team as the main tenant, the Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported.

As Business First first noted in Louisville, Mayor Will Sessoms was quoted in the Sacramento Bee newspaper as saying: “This just ain’t gonna work at this point in time.”

Says the Pilot:

The deal structure had been for the city to put in $241 million, a state contribution of $150 million and $35 million from Comcast-Spectacor. That money included $80 million to be paid to the team for relocation costs.

But, without an NBA deal in place, Sessoms said in the Pilot that the city is moving on for now and won’t contribute its resources to the effort.  The Pilot also notes this: “The city and its economic development authority have spent about $1.2 million on the project.”

No arena in Virginia Beach, no NBA team.

Scott Howard-Cooper, of NBA.com’s Hangtime blog, writes:

It was questionable whether the Kings would have jumped coasts even under the best of circumstances – Virginia Beach would have been a small market with no recent history of major-league sports, no local ownership, and looking to energize a fan base long-term with a team that has been rowing in circles for years. Under these circumstances, though, it was the equivalent of trying to buy a house without any idea of how much the bank was willing to lend.

And, of course, Louisville has an arena — a top reason a Forbes contributor singled out Louisville in December as a city that should be next in line for an NBA team.

Last week, Mayor Greg Fischer discussed his stance on a potential NBA team for Louisville with WFPL’s Gabe Bullard. The obstacles include having a team available and University of Louisville’s lease for the arena, Fischer said, adding that last week’s Sugar Bowl win for UofL was an example of why the NBA may be beneficial for the city. 

“What was happening for four hours last night on national TV?” Fischer said last week. “The brand of the city of Louisville was going over and over again. It’s great for UofL, it’s great for the city. Professional sports also provides that kind of exposure.”

Despite the arguments on Louisville’s behalf — and the mayor’s argument on the NBA’s behalf — it remains unclear whether any NBA owner is or would be seriously interested in landing in the KFC Yum! Center. And there are voices in Louisville that aren’t sold on the concept. Seattle may now emerged the most-rumored landing spot for the  Kings, the Sactown Royalty blog speculates.