Mayor, Fans Ready To Fight To Keep The Kings
Most kings have no question about where their kingdom is but thanks to their owners, Sacramento’s hard court royalty hasn’t had that luxury.
As a former NBA all-star, Sacramento’s mayor Kevin Johnson has played the team’s game, but he says with Wednesday’s clear sign that a sale is possible, he’s not playing around with this opportunity.
“I’m going to make every effort that I can possibly do to identify a potential buyer that would ensure that the Sacramento Kings remain in Sacramento,” Johnson said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
Deep Seattle pockets stand ready to give the Kings a new throne, but die-hard fans are still betting on California’s capitol city.
“You’ve got Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom brothers. Those are some pretty big, heavy hitters but they don’t have a mayor like we do in Mayor Johnson,” said Mike Tavares.
Tavares’ “Crown Downtown” group is renewing its push for the Kings to play in a new sports and entertainment complex in the downtown Sacramento rail yards.
‘Here We Stay’ already has an online petition up on Change.Org backing a local sale that would keep the Kings in place and press the NBA to give Seattle an expansion team in 2015.
“I think the majority of people who follow basketball know that Sac is a great market and shouldn’t lose its team. That’s it for a lot of the people that are signing,” said organizer Blake Ellington.
The mayor has the Kings in his sights, but his overall vision remains bigger than basketball.
To him, a local buy of the team that has them playing downtown preserves as many as 1,000 jobs and sets the city up to increase employment and revenue.
“It’s about jobs. It’s about quality of life and entertainment prospects and amenities for our region,” said Johnson.
The Kings would have to file for relocation by March 1, so the time for the mayor to secure a buyers’ group for a counter bid is short and he has strict requirements for it.
He says it has to have a local presence, must agree to keep the team in Sacramento and must agree to play in a new downtown arena.