City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

August 27, 2012
Assessing Virginia Beach as a suitor of the Sacramento Kings

virginia_beachB.jpgVIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- First it was Anaheim. Then Seattle. Now it's this seaside resort city on the Atlantic being mentioned as a potential suitor of the Sacramento Kings.

I arrived here late Sunday to assess how serious a threat this area is to luring the Kings from Sacramento. The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to hear the details of a proposal by Comcast-Spectacor to build an 18,000-seat arena that would house a major league sports franchise.

While officials have declined to identify a potential tenant for that arena, the Kings are the focus of the press coverage here and several media outlets have quoted sources saying the Sacramento team is a target.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned about this region.

Virginia Beach and the surrounding Hampton Roads region is home to almost 1.7 million people. That's smaller than Sacramento, but larger than five existing NBA markets.

One of those smaller markets is Oklahoma City, which was the last city where an NBA franchise relocated.

The area has flirted with the NBA in the past; the owner of the Charlotte Hornets considered moving that franchise to neighboring Norfolk in 2001 before a more lucrative arena deal in New Orleans drew the team to Louisiana.

Pro basketball has been played here. The Virginia Squires of the ABA played in Norfolk before folding in 1976 (ironically, the Squires franchise originated in Oakland). Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Rick Barry and George "The Iceman" Gervin are Hall of Famers who once played for the Squires.

Kings officials have denied speaking with Virginia Beach city officials and this city may end up becoming just another in a growing list of places seeking to grab the Kings from Sacramento. But as long as Sacramento's arena situation remains unsettled, every threat is worth assessing.

Photo caption: The beach at Virginia Beach, Va. on Monday morning. Photo by Ryan Lillis /

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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