Marcos Breton: Kings' deterioration not just an issue on the court

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

I took my family to see the Kings play on the evening of Easter Sunday because I couldn't find anyone who would buy my tickets – even at a steep discount.

We all know why.

It's not because Sacramento doesn't love its NBA team. The region still supports a lackluster franchise that's limping through its sixth consecutive losing season.

Sacramento has moved mountains to craft a deal for a downtown arena to secure the Kings' future. This despite slashed city services and Kings owners who claim they want to be here but whose actions say otherwise.

In fact, the reason I couldn't sell my tickets for a fraction of what they were worth is the same reason seats go empty in the former Arco Arena:

Substandard ownership has allowed a rabidly followed franchise to deteriorate into a distressed property.

I just didn't appreciate how distressed it is until we pulled up on Sunday and I got a good look at this mess in broad daylight.

Approaching via the west entrance, you see it on your walk to the turnstiles: A veritable junkyard of discarded arena seats and debris strewn about as if it were a county landfill and not the home of an NBA franchise.

Even worse, the building itself is covered in soot. It looks cheap and dingy. How much could it cost to pressure-wash the building so it could look respectable?

Like distressed neighborhoods, basketball arenas fall into disrepair when the owners let it happen.

This all makes sense if you consider the entire picture here. The owners – the Maloof brothers – do most of their talking through their Los Angeles-based lawyer and spokesman. They've taken an aggressive stance against the city of Sacramento, firing off Public Records Act requests as if the city were the enemy instead of a partner.

In this context, the state of the Kings is perfectly understandable. It's the NBA version of a run-down home in a neighborhood where everyone else cares but the absentee owners responsible for the mess.

Employees at the arena are first-rate, as are many Kings employees. The basketball operations are doing their best with the lowest payroll in the NBA.

This is all about the owners. Sunday's game was dismal as the Kings were pounded by the Houston Rockets. Boys who played basketball at halftime were much more entertaining.

Then, as we went home, my wife felt something funny on her shoe. She took it off when we got home and she found a nail lodged in it. Yes, a nail.

Her foot wasn't hurt. There will be no lawsuits from the Breton family.

You just don't expect to step on a nail at an NBA game, but I guess it is symbolic.

The Kings ownership is like a nail in the shoe of Sacramento.

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