Barring a last second miracle the Sacramento Kings will play their last game tonight at Arco Arena against the Los Angeles Lakers. It will be an emotional game with playoff implications and an opportunity for the fans to say one last goodbye after a marvelous 26 seasons. Over the years the Sacramento fans have stuck by the Kings through the good times and the bad. Of all the issues surrounding the imminent move no one can say the team is relocating because they lack fan support. The Kings fans turn out whether the team wins 25 or 52 games. Their love for the team is unconditional. Still, in this new economic climate of professional sports fan participation is not the ultimate factor in determining if a team stays or goes.
It all comes down to income streams provided by state of the art arenas. No longer is the product on the court the most important thing. An owner nowadays would rather have a losing team in a brand spanking new facility than an NBA champion in some run down coliseum. Luxury suites, naming rights, and advertisement potential are all that matters. The fans are simply a pawn in a chess game played by billionaires. They move the pieces around indiscriminately with no regard for the emotional and psychological impact it may have on the city as a whole.
With the exception of the Green Bay Packers no team in professional sports is exempt from the possibility of relocation. Money wins over tradition every time. It is a reality sports fans will have to come to grips with sooner than later. The emotional investment into a city's team could very well have diminishing returns in the future. As ludicrous as it sounds you could wake up one day to find your favorite team playing in Anaheim, Kansas City, Charlotte, or Oklahoma City. There is no guarantee the love you show for a team will be reciprocated. Unless you supply a team with monetary compensation the door is always open to leave. Attention all city officials, when the owner comes to you and says build me a new arena just do it or suffer the consequences. If you don't believe me ask the fans in Seattle and Sac Town.