The Kings appear set to leave Sacramento and reports have surfaced that Vancouver is the most likely destination. But Francesco Aquilini, the man in charge of Rogers Arena and the Vancouver Canucks, said he has nothing in the works to bring the NBA back to Vancouver.
“I can tell you we don’t have any plans to bring an NBA team to Vancouver,” Aquilini told the Vancouver Province.
On Friday, ESPN senior NBA writer Ric Bucher told Kevin Calabro on ESPN 710 Seattle that Vancouver is the “most viable” destination for the Kings should they leave Sacramento.
Bucher went on to say that Vancouver may have been pushed ahead of Anaheim and Seattle as the most likely relocation destination for the Kings. He also stated that he had not heard anything directly from the Maloof brothers, who own the Kings franchise, it was just a rumour he had heard from several sources.
While Aquilini pointed out he was not chasing a franchise he also said that it is a very realistic possibility that a team could play out of Rogers Arena .
“I think if there was enough support, enough of a fan base, definitely the arena is ready to go,” Aquilini said. “There was a basketball team here before; the building is really plug-and-play. We could start tomorrow if we wanted to. But the question is always about market size. That really is the issue. The (Grizzlies) did leave Vancouver for a reason, because there just wasn’t enough market support. If there was, they wouldn’t have left in the first place. We’re continually doing work on that, to assess whether there is enough of a market for an NBA team in Vancouver.”
The Maloofs are not said to be interested in selling the Kings, just relocating their franchise if they can’t get an arena deal worked out in Sacramento.
The expansion Grizzlies played out of Vancouver from 1995 until 2001 before relocating to Memphis.
The growing popularity of basketball in Canada and stronger Canadian dollar are two of the main reasons why it is believed the NBA would be more successful the second time around in Vancouver.