SACRAMENTO -- In 1985, Sacramento was a very different place than it is today. Many who lived here were satisfied with staying a small town. But change was coming.
That year, the Kings moved from Kansas City to Sacramento. Gary Gerould was hand-picked by the Kings ownership group to be the play-by-play announcer.
“To realize that the NBA was coming to Sacramento, in my mind, was a very big deal. And I probably didn’t even begin to realize the impact the Kings would end up having,” Gerould said.
More than 2,500 games later, Gerould is still calling Kings games on the radio. With a crystal-clear vision, he recalls the team’s first arena in Sacramento. Arco-1 was built in just nine months.
“It was a postage stamp. It seated 10,333. The locker rooms were so small that trainer Bill Jones had to tape ankles in the hallway outside. By today’s standards, it was a joke,” Gerould told FOX40. “But it was big league basketball. And Sacramento fans couldn’t get enough, they were ravenous for this.”
As an overwhelming passion for the team swept over the city, Maggie Rose McGurk was there to capture the excitement. The experienced sports photographer took pictures for Sacramento Sports Magazine and the 49ers. She was brought on to photograph the Kings in their inaugural season. Her very first assignment was opening night.
“Oh, I remember,” said McGurk. “It was just so exciting. That first night, all the owners and their children were in tuxedos.”
Maggie was the only female photographer to cover Kings games back then. Photographing basketball helped her hone her craft.
“You’ve got to get the real fast action and the close contact,” said McGurk. “It made it a lot more difficult.”
Maggie and Gary agree that something truly special was building between the team and the city.
“There was a passion, there was an energy,” said Gerould. “There was something that just distinctly said, ‘This is Sacramento.’”
That first season helped set the tone for “Cowbell Kingdom.” The Kings became a source of pride throughout the years. That loyalty has helped to shape the city and the franchise 32 years later.
“You know, four years ago at this time, we still did not know whether the Kings were headed to Seattle. And to consider that, in four years’ time, not only was that resolved, but now you’re a season into this magnificent Golden 1 Center in the heart of downtown Sacramento, that is transforming downtown Sacramento… That speaks volumes in my mind,” said Gerould.