It’s been about a half-decade since the Kings have been relevant in the NBA. Because the team has not been very good since the days of Chris Webber and Mike Bibby in Sacramento, the attendance has dipped and there have been talks about the Kings possibly leaving Sacramento for a new city. It hasn’t happened yet and former NBA player Kevin Johnson, who is now the Mayor of Sacramento, is doing everything that he can do to keep the Kings in Sacramento. He is in the process of trying to come up with a plan to have a new arena financed where the Kings can play their home games. Along with that, he has also devised a community based campaign to sell-out the first two home games and get some buzz back around the Kings in Sacramento that was there about five years ago. As the Mayor, he is doing everything that he can do to keep the Kings in Sacramento. Unfortunately for him, the product on the court has not been able to match the kind of effort he has put forth off the court.
Mayor Kevin Johnson (former NBA Player) of Sacramento joined KHTK in Sacramento with the Rise Guys and talks about getting his bag stolen in San Francisco, trying to come up with a campaign to sell-out the first two Kings home games, and his ideas for a new arena for the Kings.
On getting his bag stolen:
“It was kind of interesting. I took public transportation from Sacramento down to the Bay Area. I was walking up PAL and some elderly gentleman was having some trouble with his bags. So I walked him a few blocks, put him in a cab, and when I put him in a cab, I set my bag down for literally 30 seconds, got him off and running, turned around and my bag was gone just like that. I had a big meeting the next day so I was without a suit and the streets of San Francisco were not kind to the Sacramento Mayor.”
On San Jose’s push to land an NBA club:
“Yeah, we were aware of it. I think first of all as Kings owners, the Maloof’s have the right to talk to whoever they want when it comes to their teams future. However, I take them at their word when they say they are committed to staying in Sacramento and have no intentions of moving the team elsewhere. I think what it really does though is put the onus on us as a community. We have the oldest arena in the NBA; we just lost out on the NCAA College Basketball regional basketball games coming to Sacramento because our arena, Arco Arena, is outdated, too old and not up to par. That cost us about 4 million dollars of economic impact. We as a city, aside from the Kings, if we want to be world-class, we need to have world-class facilities. Certainly having a new entertainment complex that includes an arena is something that we need to make happen in the Valley.”
On his sense of urgency to get a new arena financed:
“I take everything as a significant interest. We don’t want to get caught flat-footed. Again, the Maloof’s clearly said that they don’t want to leave. They haven’t drawn a line in the sand in terms of a deadline that everyone is working around the clock to make an arena happen. From my vantage point, honestly I know in next March and April, is a time that NBA teams can file their papers to relocate in another city. The Kings have said they’re not going to do it, but I don’t ever want to get a phone call saying it’s about to happen. We really need to create the dialogue and figure out a way to finance a new arena. Other cities are knocking on the door and certainly if I didn’t have an NBA team, I’d be doing everything I could to try to get another team to relocate to Sacramento. Once we build a new arena, we’d love to have baseball and some other professional sports team in Sacramento. Often ways to make it happen, you find a team that is not doing well, the fan support has not been there, attendance is down and the Kings are certainly ripe for that. Especially in light of over the last decade, there’s been a number of failed attempts to get a new arena in Sacramento and we haven’t made it happen. As mayor I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that we have a critical path to a new arena in the not-too-distant future.”
On the community based campaign to sell-out the first two home games:
“If you think about it, the Sacramento Kings have the best fans in the NBA and that’s been the case for many years as long as we’ve had a good product on the court. We want to just basically return the excitement and the energy. It’s a new season and I agreed to chair a 17 member committee of business leaders and we just said we’re going to help sell out the first two home games. We play the Grizzlies on November 2nd and the Hawks on November 14th and this is operation sellout. We want to just get the excitement back in the city and support our young team and our new coach.”
(This post was written by Chris Fedor of WKNR in Cleveland)