Falling attendance resulted in Harrison’s inability to keep up with salary increases, which got into his ability to attract and retain new players. From 1951-1957, the Royals failed to make a profit, losing around $131,000. Even hosting the 6th Annual NBA All-Star Game in Rochester on January 24, 1956, a game which featured future Hall of Famers Bobby Wanzer and Maurice Stokes of the Royals, as well as Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks and Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics, could not turn things around. Harrison reluctantly made the decision to move the team, and it relocated to Cincinnati in April 1957 before finally settling in Sacramento—where the franchise remains today.
Other small market teams did the same. The Fort Wayne Pistons moved to Detroit in 1957 and the Minneapolis Lakers moved to Los Angeles in 1960.
Harrison was blunt in his assessment: “I did not want to leave Rochester. I was born and brought up here and I didn’t want to take them out of here. We didn’t have money….This is a minor league city. If they are supporting a minor league hockey team and don’t want an NBA basketball (team) they should have their head examined…They didn’t realize what a good thing they had here. That’s all. They didn’t realize it. That was something special….”
It was. It was a time when Rochester was royal.