Posted Saturday, May 18th 2013 @ 12am
By Ian Furness
What’s next? That is the question facing Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer and the Nordstroms now that the Kings are completely off the table. While many would prefer expansion, and a part of me would fall into that category, there has to be a sense of some urgency since the actual construction of a new arena can’t begin until a team is guaranteed to be coming to Seattle.
So what team could be on the move? To be honest, this isn’t a multiple choice question. There is one answer.
The Charlotte Bobcats are not only one of the worst basketball teams in the NBA, the apathy from their “fan” base is even more stunning.
On the floor, in the nine seasons since entering the league, the Bobcats have had one winning season. They have never won a playoff series after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the only year they qualified for the postseason. In every other year, the team has finished at least 12 games UNDER .500. In eight of their nine drafts, they have had at least one lottery pick. Not one of those lottery picks has played in the All-Star Game. You get the point. They are the worst NBA team in the past decade, and it may not be close.
That disaster may explain the apathy. It should, but it doesn’t even begin to tell the story. Keep in mind that most NBA attendance numbers are sketchy at best. The numbers the public have access to don’t reflect the “drop count” or actual butts in the seats. Even so, the best year for the Bobcats attendance ranked 22nd in a league of 30 teams. That was their best year when they averaged just over 16,000 per game, or about 84% capacity. That was their best year. That would be the worst year for the upper third of the league.
More startling right now is the fact that, according to a source close to the situation, the Bobcats currently have the smallest season ticket base in the NBA, by a landslide. While exact numbers are hard to confirm, the number I was given was less than 5,000. On top of that, luxury suites are literally “given away” and thus not a source of any substantial revenue.
To be fair, many teams in all professional leagues can struggle at the gate but their local television numbers still reflect great interest and passion in the market. But, as you probably would guess, that is not the case with the Bobcats. According to the Sports Business Journal, Charlotte has the worst local television ratings in the NBA. At the All-Star break this season, the Bobcats were averaging a 0.6 rating for their games. To put that in perspective, some of our WHL (minor league hockey) games on ROOT Sports have done almost double that number on cable, depending on which market they were measured.
My source also told me the team loses “at least 10 million” dollars a year. That is a best case scenario and can be explained easily with a lack of ticket sales, empty and unsold luxury suites and a television product that has to be impossible to sell given the dismal ratings.
In the end, with our without David Stern’s help, Sacramento was going to rally and put forth an effort to keep the Kings in town. If the Charlotte Bobcats were to leave, given the lack of interest, the biggest question would be how long until someone noticed?