Fans, leaders roll out purple carpet for NBA

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A day before National Basketball Association representatives arrive in Sacramento, regional leaders gathered in the state capital Wednesday to show their support for what has until now been the city’s effort to keep the Kings and build a new arena.

Kings fans and business leaders have launched a campaign called "Here We Purple" in anticipation of the NBA’s arrival. The movement grew on Facebook and Twitter, where organizers are encouraging everyone in the city to paint the town purple and wear purple clothes Thursday and/or Friday.

Elected officials from as far away as Loomis, Yuba City and Yolo County joined Mayor Kevin Johnson for an hour-long meeting and press conference he held to drum up support for the team.

Johnson will meet with Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, who chairs the NBA Board of Governor’s Relocation Committee, and NBA Executive Counsel Harvey Benjamin on their two-day fact-finding mission here Thursday and Friday.

The Kings and the arena where they play have been regional assets that have brought jobs, business, marketing opportunities and a national identity to the six-county region – which includes Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Yuba and Sutter counties, several leaders said.

"The NBA and the Kings span the entire region. They are not simply part of the city of Sacramento. They are one of the region’s most important assets," West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said during the press conference.

"We want to make it clear to the NBA that the entire region is standing behind Mayor Johnson, the city of Sacramento and the Kings to assure that the NBA remains a critical part of this community and this region," he said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Kings fans and businesses used social media to get the word out on efforts to swathe Sacramento and its residents in purple.

Grange Restaurant and Bar will put the "Kings Preservation" cocktail on the menu Thursday. The Midtown bar Alley Katz is offering $1 purple beers Thursday. Restaurants, bars and a movie theater are offering freebies and special deals for customers dressed in purple. The Esquire IMAX Theatre will give away free popcorn to anyone wearing that color.

On Wednesday morning, about 36 people representing all six counties, six to eight cities and four chambers of commerce met with Johnson at the headquarters for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, across from the Capitol. City Councilmen Steve Cohn and Jay Schenirer took part. Representatives were also sent by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, state Sen. Ted Gaines and U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui. 

Yolo County Supervisor Jimmie Yee said he wants to work with leaders from throughout the region to figure out how to build a new arena to replace Power Balance Pavilion and keep the Kings in Sacramento.

"An entertainment center, not just for NBA basketball, but for all entertainment, is a regional asset," Yee said.

On Wednesday, Johnson did not mention another option he raised before the NBA team owners last week: that a group led by billionaire Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle buy the Kings to keep them here or bring in another team.

Neither Burkle nor his investment partner, San Francisco political strategist Darius Anderson, have been available for more comment on their plan since the NBA meeting.

On Friday, NBA Commissioner David Stern indicated Johnson’s "businesslike" approach and presentation to team owners were critical in getting the league to postpone the team’s relocation request deadline to May 2.

No details were available on the NBA’s visit or meeting with the mayor.

Several at the press conference outside Meridian Plaza, 1415 L St., credited Johnson with turning the conversation around in the last two weeks to refocus on a desire to keep the Kings and continuing the efforts to stop the team from moving to Anaheim.

In that time, Johnson has led a drive that’s raised at least $8 million in pledges of financial support for the team in the form of corporate sponsorships, luxury suite sales or next season tickets. He made a pitch to stop the Kings from leaving the city or at least protect Sacramento’s reputation as a viable NBA market when he appeared before NBA Board of Governors committees last week.

"It’s really critical and I think it’s phenomenal that we have been able to turn around that sentiment that, two weeks ago, felt like it was a done deal," Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Steve Gándola said. "Today, I really feel we have a strong shot at keeping them here."

The Sacramento Press will turn its website purple Thursday. Kings supporters can post photos of people dressed in purple and other creative ways people show support for this effort at  

  • Rhonda Erwin

    Mayor Johnson states, “We want to make it clear to the NBA that the entire region is standing behind Mayor Johnson, the city of Sacramento and the Kings to assure that the NBA remains a critical part of this community and this region,” But isn’t that spreading the truth??? Since the “entire region” is not actually standing on board with this? Seems the mayor, even after a couple years in office, only sees the folks he wants to see. He could have said we have the support of some, or many or the business community and some residents…. But heck, he is officially a true politican spreading it on thick.

    And by the way, some of us won’t be wearing purple we’ll be in black mourning the death of a family member. But first things first save the kings before saving a life

  • Wow Rhonda… First and foremost, sorry to hear about the death of one of your family members… truly. Now with that being said… the comment you say “But first things first save the kings before saving a life” is a harsh and very unnecessary comment because I can not see how what Mayor Kevin Johnson said would/could be translated the way you stated it. Truly there are many many jobs on the line for the people employed at the Area as well all the groups/schools that use the Kings as fundraising tool. I know for a fact that over 50% of our PTA fundraising came from Kings ticket sales which gave us enough money to reopen our school library… which the district was not able to do because of the districts budget cuts. That would not have happened without the kings ticket sales… just one example

    • Rhonda Erwin

      DJin Sacramento. 1st- thank you. That said, I don’t feel it is a harsh or unnecessary comment because I have seen Mayor’s Johnson ineffective, insignificant, efforts towards addressing youth violence. I was a part of his first alleged gang summit…. I witnessed how the youth were used, given false hopes and tossed away after the media was gone…. 2) How can I translate it any different?? We are dying, my friend. Death is final. Apparently the Kings leaving is not. And apparently we can’t open the chapter of life and freedom until we close the chapter of the Kings and any thing else Johnson feels will gain him support. Another election is not far away… 3) Truly for the last few years their have been many many many people who have lost their jobs employed at the Arena and the remaining were getting more unemployment on the months laid off than they were a salary from employment. It’s too bad that the school library closed and it took over 50% of your PTA funding to have to come from Kings Sales Tickets. Perhaps if the city, county, state budgets were not monopolized with suppression / incarceration due to a lack of crime prevention your library never would have been closed in the first place. Heck, seems you could of just gave a convincing argument to the Thunder Valley Tribe and got a cool million to open the library without having to work for the Kings to sale tickets. In fact, the Kings did not “give” you anything. You worked for them- you sold tickets…. just a few examples.

    • Rhonda Erwin

      I apologize if I come on strong but my pain is real deep right now….. My point is you appear to say you needed the Kings; but it appears to me the Kings needed you –to sale the tickets. And if you could sale tickets to the Kings game (and they weren’t winning many) then you can sale tickets to other events and keep the library open and perhaps after school programs. So, I think it could have happened without the Kings because if you want it bad enough I think you’d find another way to make it happen. I’m curious how much did the school get for each ticket sold? How much did the Kings get from each ticket sold?

    • they already tax cigarettes for education. i dont have kids, i dont complain about paying for that. Sac needs MORE business and entertainment not less.

    • Rhonda Erwin

      It appears you are complaining about paying for cigarette tax – lol. Of course Sac needs more business and entertainment and not less. Just because the Kings leave does not mean we can’t or won’t look for and find those business and entertainment venues. Gheez. Look at what the city businesses have done with thought of losing the kings, they responded, united, raised money… so why wouldn’t you think they wouldn’t use that same energy to replace the business/ entertainment that could be affected if they leave?? It’s not like the Kings are helping them now

  • start your own group for schools and education. a large contingent of kings fans are working hard for their cause. start one for yours.

    • Rhonda Erwin

      And they should work hard for something they believe in just as I am working hard for something I believe in:) I don’t think I need to start my own group for schools and education lol- the key to the future should not be the same key to unlocking the past. Why segregation?

    • take it to city hall! 😉

    • Rhonda Erwin

      joell83, What the heck??? Okay, I’ll play. I have taken it to city hall and I will continue to do so. Thanks

  • There’s something to be said about the entire (well, apparently not the entire) city rallying around a common cause. We understand that basketball does not outweigh gang violence, or the death of a family member, but there’s definitely a reason to preserve something that THOUSANDS of Sacramento area residents enjoy 9 months out of the year… The time is now, and unfortunately the Mayor is having to work overtime on this subject since it was not handled by past city councils… how much of the arena damage control can he be truly responsible for?

    • Rhonda Erwin

      The mayor is working over time on this subject because it’s a priority to him and youth death, arrests, violence is not. Plain and Simple.

      I think it’s good thousands in the city are rallying around this cause. Heck, there are probably thousands who aren’t-lol (and not due to youth violence but for what ever reasons) But the articles, media aren’t looking at them-lol This is a better story:) But as I wrote on another article “I could care less if the kings leave Sac …I DO like the sense of community pride, passion and unity.

      I love Sacramento and I love the fact many in Sacramento have mobilized in a cause they believe in. Seeing all the labor doesn’t show me we need the Kings it shows me we need the people of Sac, the strength, power, passion is in the people not the sports team. Heck, the people are doing all the labor for the team to stay; the team is finding a way to leave….Heck, I might just walk out the house in purple lol –on second thought it might be mistaken for me supporting the Kings when in fact I would be supporting the community:) FYI, I’m not surprised with the response 1) some really enjoy the sports team 2) ego’s are out to play- some are offended the Kings want to leave them so they go into overdrive working… . 3) I think it is more about pride than it is the sports team But whatever the case I like the passion it has brought.

    • Rhonda Erwin

      And make no mistake, I could care less how much damage control Johnson can or should be held responsible for with the arena. What I am doing is watching Johnson’s response to this, watching his outreach, labor….. and I will compare and contrast it to how he responds to youth violence. He gives this cause 100% so we won’t continue to settle for his 10% efforts in addressing youth violence. My concern is not in the fact he is addressing this issue- heck he should many in the community are concerned with it. My concern is the fact he isn’t significantly addressing, youth violence an issue many of us are also concerned with. He’s being watched, studied in fact on how he’s saving the Kings and no amount of damage control will prevent him from being held accountable for his lack of response, drive, energy, significant efforts in saving the lives of youth dying in the City of Sacramento.

  • Rhonda Erwin

    Before I go, I want to add. I love what many are doing. Many people are addressing this in the spirit of love for the city, kings… The Maloofs are in this for the money. For once I would like to see love overshadow and win over money. So I am not hating I am supporting what many are dong. I believe in love. Peace to all.

    • money talk in the NBA

    • Rhonda Erwin

      Uh yeah, it’s a business.

  • Anaheim Mayor Tom Tate tried to take off from the freethrow line for the dunk in NY…and he biffed it.

  • A lot of very spirited and heartfelt comments on this story. Let me be another voice to offer my condolences for the death in Ms. Erwin’s family.

    I’d also like to add that I was struck by the thoroughness and completeness of this story and by the really solid and professional reporting SacPress has done on this issue and other city issues. That coverage has, in my opinion, been the best of any I’ve seen in the media.

    I don’t know how you continue to beat the Bee and others with what seems like a shoestring staff + volunteers, but keep up the good work SacPress! As much as the politicians talk that the Kings are an asset to our community, I think SacPress is a real unsung asset to this community. Kudos!

    • Rhonda Erwin

      Thank you very much. I really enjoyed reading all of your comment. I should add, I have not lost any of my biological children to death but many of my community children have died. I have friends who have lost their brother, uncle, father, child… I do however, on behalf of those who have lost family members, appreciate the kind words.

      I agree SacPress does deserve Kudo’s for both their reporting and for providing a format for community members to contribute, vent, offer insight….and have a voice….

  • Nick Houser

    It was Mayor Cabaldon that said the region is on board. Obviously there are individuals opposed but Cabaldon is stating West Sac (the general majority) are on board with wanting the Kings to stay.


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