SACRAMENTO, March 24 (UPI) -- A California billionaire and basketball fan says he is negotiating with the owners of the Sacramento Kings to move south and play in Anaheim.
"I would love to lure an NBA franchise," said scientist, businessman, philanthropist and basketball aficionado Henry Samueli, the Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.
The Maloof family, owners of the Kings, has until April 18 to ask the NBA for permission to move south but Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says his money is on the team leaving because the time is right.
The Kings have received several invitations to play at the Honda Center in Anaheim, formerly The Pond, as have several other basketball teams, but they have all run into the "Disney Effect," the newspaper said. Although just a tenant at the arena with its NHL Anaheim Ducks, a favorable lease emboldened Disney to keep a tight grip on all revenue streams such as the building's luxury suites, advertising and merchandising, the Bee said.
The "Disney Effect" kept many NBA teams from coming to the venue to make it their home, including the Clippers, the Charlotte Hornets and the Vancouver Grizzlies who, in 2001, considered a move but decided on going to Memphis.
"Disney has very strong opinions," former Grizzlies executive Andy Dolich said. "We would have controlled a small amount of revenue."
In 2003 Samueli, co-founder of a $6.8 billion-a-year Orange County firm that makes cellphone chips, took over the contract to run the Anaheim arena.
He bought the Mighty Ducks franchise from The Walt Disney Co. for $75 million in 2005 and renamed the team the Anaheim Ducks and groomed them into 2007 Stanley Cup champions.