It is always sad when sports team shut down, not only for the fans of that team, but for fans of the sport as well. It is tough when economics and other outside business decisions shut down or force a team to relocate. Today the Maloof Family who both the Sacramento Kings of the NBA and the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA announced that they would no longer operate the Monarchs and now the WNBA offices are scrambling to find a new ownership group and a plan to relocate the franchise.
The loss of the Monarchs hurts for the WNBA, they were a charter member of that league, and the league Champions in 2005. Until yesterday their official team website had a title, “Picture yourself as a 2010 Monarchs season ticket holders.” So this move took many kind of by surprise. It’s not as if the attendance of the Monarchs was terrible. In fact by WNBA standards it was pretty good. In fact of the current WNBA team the Monarchs had the sixth highest average franchise attendance. Of course the team with the fifth highest average franchise attendance, the Detroit Shock, was recently sold and relocated.
The Maloof family, who also own the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, said they no longer wished to operate the team because it split their focus from the Sacramento Kings. There have been some reports that the Detroit Shock had lost 25 million dollars over their 12 years of existence. Since the WNBA has a pretty small salary cap, just 803k for 2009, that doesn’t seem possible. It is interesting that the Monarchs are not being shut down due to financial loses.
Since the California Bay area is a desirable location for a WNBA franchise the move may not be a big one. In fact there are potential groups in both San Jose and Oakland who may buy the franchise.