Bless the Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings. Frustrated in their efforts - free rides! - to keep their employees from being busted for allegedly driving under the influence, they're making darn sure that their customers don't touch demon alcohol at all. Basically, they've priced alcoholic beverages at Arco Arena virtually out of reach of the ordinary guy. I know this first-hand because I was at Sunday's game between the Sacramento Kings and the Houston Rockets. If you were at home and watching the game on TV you may have seen us. There weren't many other fans for the cameras to scan. Indeed, a couple three rows in front of us set a new record for being completely oblivious to their presence on the jumbo screen overhead. My wife and I each even got a plaque for showing up.
At a professional basketball game, I'm generally not much interested in drinking wine. Beer is my first choice, and I did indulge a Budweiser at $8.75, but it was a generous cup, maybe 24 ounces. At any rate, on my way to the beer stand I did pause at a concourse booth dispensing wine. There, I could have had my choice of a cabernet sauvignon or a chardonnay, both from the 2009 vintage, both priced at $7, and both by Sutter Home. The $7 would have bought me a 187-milliliter plastic bottle. Back in the real world - Safeway, Raley's, Save Mart, etc. - a 750-milliliter bottle of one of these wines would cost around $5 at full markup. In short, had I opted for one of the wines rather than the Bud I would have paid almost 50 percent more for 75 percent less. I never did well in economics classes, but something tells me that exchange just didn't add up; no wonder I never saw another fan all afternoon with a glass of wine in hand.
OK, I'm in a sour mood. I bought the Sunday tickets figuring that if the Kings could beat any team in the NBA it would be the Rockets, especially since the Kings were playing on their home court. I was looking for a little holiday cheer. While the Kings had their moments, they overall were out of sync, flailing about under the basket, failing to finish. They'd get traction now and then, but couldn't keep the momentum going. After we returned home I settled into the game between the Patriots and the Packers. My team didn't win there, either, but I came away feeling that I'd watched two energetic and cohesive squads assembled and guided by managements with well-conceived visions and practical ways to achieve them.
At any rate, as we left Arco Arena and walked through the dark and the cold to our car I thought of another way for the Maloofs to safeguard Kings fans from over-indulging and then driving: Ban vehicles at Arco Arena. This, however, would mean the Maloofs would have to sacrifice another lucrative revenue stream - $10 parking fees (you'd think at that cost they'd put in some drainage and some better lighting, but I digress). It also would compel the Maloofs and city officials to do something they mysteriously and quietly have avoided doing all these years that the Kings have been in town - provide public transportation to and from Arco Arena. (You think maybe because it's called Arco Arena that may have something to do with their inertia?) I'm just saying that if I could hop on a bus or light rail to Arco Arena, I'd likely attend more games, and while there I might even spend $7 for a glass of wine.