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Are the Sacramento Kings a pawn in Virginia Beach corporate welfare chess game?

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There has been much ado in recent days about a potential Sacramento Kings move to the coastal town of Virginia Beach, Va. – but as more information is revealed, a writer with an influential liberal think tank said it is starting to look like Sacramento is little more than a pawn in a larger corporate game.

As the Virginia Beach City Council prepares to hear a presentation from a group of corporate executives interested in building a new arena in its region, Travis Waldron, a reporter from the liberal forum blog ThinkProgress, presents a different take on the situation and what may be happening behind the scenes.

“Connecting the dots in the roll-out of this story,” Waldron wrote, “makes it look like little more than a coordinated attempt to get Virginia Beach’s city council to finance an expensive arena project for a hypothetical NBA franchise that may never come to the city.”

[Update: Here’s our live chat with Waldron:

For live updates from the meeting, check Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Lillis on Twitter, @Ryan_Lillis ]

The pitch is being made to the council by execs from corporate giant Comcast-Spectacor, which owns NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Waldron noted that the group will head to the council with a plan already in place.

Aaron Applegate reported in the Virginian-Pilot that Comcast-Spectacor has promised the city the company would bring a major professional sports team to town if an arena deal goes through.

The company failed to specify WHICH major team, however – a crucial piece of information, according to Waldron.

“Enter the Kings and their billionaire owners, the Maloofs, who are so desperate to extort a state-of-the-art arena from someone that they seem willing to move virtually anywhere on Earth to do it,” he wrote.

The combination of Virginia Beach’s need for an infusion of taxpayer dollars into its economy, the Maloofs’ craving for a new arena and a corporate entity ready to cut a deal creates the perfect setup for what Waldron referred to as “the corporate welfare chess match that has become professional sports” and an “arena-extortion prom.”

How will this game play out? Will there be any real winners? The Virginia Beach City Council is slated to convene at 3 p.m. Pacific time, and the Sacramento Business Journal reported that an announcement regarding the future of the Kings may follow.

Waldon will be chatting live with The Sacramento Press today at noon to talk about the situation and the possible outcomes for Sacramento, Virginia Beach and Sacramento Kings owners, the Maloofs. [The live chat will be live streamed in this article/URL]

Let us know what you think – share your comments or questions for Waldon in the section below.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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