ORANGE COUNTY When news hit that the Sacramento Kings might be headed south, longtime resident Christopher Smith quickly dialed Anaheim's Honda Center to sign up for the ticket wait list.
Was Smith feeling a sudden passion for the royal purple and black? No way.
"I want to see the Lakers and not have to drive all the way into L.A.," Smith said. "I want to see LeBron, and the Bulls, and I especially want to boo the Celtics."
Sorry, Sacramento. As the capital city wrings its hands in existential angst over the probability it is losing its sole major league team, Southern Californians this week were just happy to hear their sports commute may get shorter.
And if the Kings don't make it to the O.C?
"Eh," Smith said, "we've got the beaches. We'll go to the beach."
Beaches are not all Orange County has. If there is a core irony for Sacramento fans in this unfolding drama, it's that their team is choosing to end a monogamous 26-year relationship to start anew with a community that deals in multiple flirtations.
The Lakers and Clippers basketball teams, and their courtside entourage of Hollywood glitterati, are ensconced just 30 miles up Interstate 5 at the Staples Center. The region also hosts two major league hockey teams and two baseball teams.
The Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in particular enjoys huge loyalty in the O.C., where Lakers star Kobe Bryant lives.
David Diaz, who went to Anaheim City Hall this week to encourage the city's courting of the Kings, said the thing is, Orange County likes winners. "I'm not saying I'd jump on the bandwagon," he said. "I may someday if we get a consistent winner."
Even in Anaheim, where giddy city officials Tuesday agreed to a $75 million bond sale to facilitate the Kings move, the team may be no better than the fourth-biggest recreational draw.
The city's Honda Center arena already is home to the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, which won the NHL title in 2007. Officials say the basketball and hockey teams would alternate days at the arena, with each team allowed one weekend game.
A few yards away sits Angels stadium, home to a longstanding Major League Baseball franchise with a 2002 World Series title to its name.
And two miles down West Katella Avenue looms the town's mega-money machine, Disneyland, its distinctive crooked-nosed Matterhorn mountain beckoning millions of visitors a year.
How big a splash would the Kings make, then, amid this surfeit of entertainment options? The answer may be painful to core Sacramento fans, for many of whom the Kings have been the only game in town.
"It's really just one more arrow in our quiver," said Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim and Orange County convention bureau. "It doesn't change our identity as much as a city without a franchise."
Given the region's embarrassment of riches, some warn the Kings will struggle to find a niche. Others worry the Kings will also dilute other teams' profits.
In comments last week to the Orange County Register, Angels baseball team owner Arte Moreno warned that the vast Los Angeles region has its economic limitations, including in the lucrative media advertising market the Kings would expect to tap.
"Is there room in the whole metropolitan area?" Moreno asked. "It would be silly to sit here and say everybody's overflowing with advertising dollars right now. People have to make decisions on how to spend their advertising dollars. Fans have to decide how to spend their discretionary dollars."
Despite those concerns, Anaheim city officials took what they called a historic step this week when they agreed to sell bonds that will allow Honda Center officials to make $25 million in facility upgrades and lend $50 million to the Kings for the move.
In doing so, the city finally went public with its intentions after months of clandestine efforts to lure the team.
Mayor Tom Tait, a buttoned-down engineer and business owner, let loose slightly, slipping into surfer jargon.
"I'm thrilled," Tait said. "Actually, a better word is stoked. We will fill the stands of the Honda Center when the NBA comes to town, believe me."
The city that has worked for 20 years to land an NBA team now sees that wait winnowed down to mere months. The Sacramento Kings have two weeks, until April 18, to request league permission to move to a new city this year. The league could take several months to decide.
"We're not there yet," Tait said. "We set the table. We're waiting for the vote of the NBA owners."
A few people in Anaheim and Orange County were apologetic this week.
"My heart goes out to the Sacramento residents and their fan base," Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray said Tuesday night after voting for the bonds.
Longtime Orange County resident Smith, who hurried this week to get his name on the ticket wait list, offered condolences as well.
"It's not like everyone is feeling good about this," he said. "I feel sorry for Sacramento. The Rams left (17) years ago. We know how that feels."