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Virginia Beach mayor confirms contact with NBA team, possibly the Kings

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 - 11:09 am

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms confirmed on Tuesday he recently met with representatives of a National Basketball Association team about moving that team to his city. The mayor declined to name the team.

Sessoms made the comment during a Virginia Beach City Council meeting, city spokesman Marc Davis said.

Several Virginia Beach news outlets have reported in the last two months that unnamed sources have told them the team is the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings reissued a statement Tuesday saying they have been approached by numerous cities interested in landing a team, but declined to comment further.

The Virginia Beach mayor's meeting with representatives of a team was described as preliminary.

"The mayor said the team is interested; they think it is a good market," Davis said. But, he said, the mayor and team representatives have not discussed what it would take financially to move the team to Virginia Beach.

The Kings' owners attempted to move to Anaheim in 2011, but were persuaded by league officials to give Sacramento a last chance to put together a financing proposal for a new arena here.

The Kings subsequently rejected Sacramento's arena plan, which had the backing of NBA Commissioner David Stern. A spokesman for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said on Tuesday "there is nothing new to report" on the arena front.

Virginia Beach officials say they continue to talk with Comcast-Spectacor about how to jointly finance an arena that could house either a major league basketball or hockey team.

The Virginia Beach City Council on Tuesday heard two consultants' financial reports, Davis said. The reports indicated that Virginia Beach is comparable demographically to a number of NBA cities, and that an arena would be a financial boon to the city and region.

However, a consultant's comparison of NBA and NHL cities shows Sacramento has a higher population, higher median income and bigger corporate base than Virginia Beach, but a lower median income after taxes and living expenses.

The analysis also shows that Sacramento's metropolitan area population ranks it sixth in the U.S. and Canada out of 43 NBA and NHL cities in a calculation that is based on population per major league franchise. Sacramento, with only one major league team, the Kings, ranks just ahead of Los Angeles, where a much larger population is divided among six major league teams. Virginia Beach ranks 15th in that analysis.

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