Mel's Diner waitress Katie Rojas worries about the future of Natomas businesses if the Kings leave town.
NATOMAS, Calif. - Many business owners with establishments surrounding Sleep Train Arena and Maloof employees are coming to grips with the idea of the Kings leaving town.
Despite speculation and rumors of a Kings move to Seattle topping local headlines recently, recent news of the deal being struck is coming as a shock to business owners and employees alike.
Katie Rojas, a lifelong Kings fan and waitress at Mel's Diner, didn't think the deal would actually happen. Now, she and the rest of her staff are preparing for a significant drop in business. A manager at Mel's says about half of their revenue comes from fans leaving Kings' home games.
It's the same story at neighboring restaurant Giant Pizza. Daniel Litovchenko has been working at the restaurant for three years and is still holding out hope that a last-minute deal can save the Kings and keep them in Sacramento.
"I hope Sacramento Kings will stay for a long time," said Litovchenko. "Because that's business for our pizza [company] and everyone who lives here."
In a letter sent to all Maloof Sports and Entertainment employees on Monday, the Maloofs confirmed change was coming:
After a memorable journey, we have made the decision to sell our interest in the Sacramento Kings organization to an investor group led by Chris Hansen. Your dedication and professionalism as a Kings team member is one of the greatest reflections we take away from our treasured experience.
Due to the fact that this transaction requires approval by the league's Board of Governors we are unable to go into further details of the agreement at this time, but our leadership team will be there to assist you during the transition.
We appreciate your sincere efforts with Maloof Sports and Entertainment. Thank you again for everything you have done in servicing the wonderful fans of Sacramento.
Litovchenko, Rojas and other Natomas business owners and employees will be paying close attention Mayor Kevin Johnson's Tuesday press conference. The mayor is expected to reveal a list of investors interested in keeping the Kings in Sacramento, and perhaps keeping local operators and employees in business.