A few years back I met with the Marketing Department of the Sacramento Kings. We were pitching a comprehensive package which included social media coverage, advertising and even turning The Sacramento Press’ navigation bar purple for one day.
After the introductions, somebody asked me – as a lifelong Sacramentan, a huge Kings fan and a founder of The Sacramento Press – what message I would send to get more butts in seats at what was then the ARCO Arena. The answer was glaringly simple.
I told them: Get the Maloofs to commit to stay in Sacramento for a couple of decades. Do it publically. Have a celebration. You’ll sell out the building and you won’t need to pay us a dime. Incidentally, you should have seen our business development director’s face when I said the last part.
Well on Thursday night I attended a very special rally that went almost exactly as I would have planned back then. I heard Vivek Ranadive, the leader of the new ownership group for the Sacramento Kings, very publicly, and at a huge celebration at Cesar Chavez Park, commit to keep this team in this city.
He went even further. Vivek told us that this was our team, and I can tell you that all 15,000 people crammed into the park knew he speaking with total sincerity. I was wrong in what I told the Kings’ brass back then. It wasn’t the words that mattered, it was the sincerity of the person speaking them. Kings fans have deserved that for a long time, and I’m glad that tonight, I believed.
Some notes from the rally itself:
1. Ruthie Bolton-Holifield is amazing. I’m just such a die hard Monarchs fan. You can build an arena downtown and you can keep the Kings in the city, but if you don’t bring back the Monarchs, the job is at best half done. There is one top-level professional championship in Sacramento history – the Sacramento Monarchs. They are and will always be champions. Ruthie attended Thursday night’s events, and just seeing her face and hearing her words brought me right back.
2. The event had the distinct feeling of being first-class. What a difference a group of focused and energized billionaires can make. Impressive.
3. But all the glitz and glam almost overwhelmed the true spirit of the event. This was a family reunion of sorts. It was a celebration of so many who pulled together grassroots campaigns, former Kings dancers and players – even Sign Lady and Mr. Sign Lady.
4. I wish Carmichael Dave MC’ed my Bar Mitzvah – that guy knows his way around a microphone.
5. I read just about every word our local fan bloggers and reporters wrote for, I dunno, three years? It was great to recognize so many of them onstage. They were covering a very complex story with their hearts out, and did so earnestly. I’m proud of our local online media ecosystem for amplifying their voices.
It’s nice to be able to celebrate with friends, remember all the good times and believe there will be more – together.