Op Ed: Sacramento’s Kings at long last

Lots of emotion at the rally

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.

Kings fans sign a wall durin the rally.


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.

Kings fans pose for a photo at the rally.

A mother and daughter pose together during the event.


  • Randy Balzarano

    Well said.

  • I attended this rally and it made me proud to be part of Sacramento. I can’t wait to see the new arena…but most importantly we have a great new ownership team that is going to support our community just like we have been supporting the Kings. Thanks again to Mayor Kevin Johnson…he was unbelievable in his leadership.

  • Bruce Moulton

    A good and positive story! I admit to not being a pro sports fan much but I am happy the Kings will stay and very happy the Maloofs will leave. My apprehension though is the public funds used. The city manager is playing games with Measure U to hire some of our laid off cops. We can’t afford to put in 25 new traffic lights to save lives. Education is cut to the bone. We have no permanent answer for the homeless. But we can afford to invest huge in private enterprise? I am apprehensive at best when every study I find indicates this is not a sound place to put municipal assets in the long run. I guess we’re going to find out but I am just saying…

    • Idiots. when was the last time an nba player did anything for sacramento other than playing a game here? i have never met a kings player much less gleaned any benefit from them. have you? i bet you have not. yet you mindlessly root for a team with no connection to the city except money (for them) of course) suckers.

    • Geoff Samek

      @CCC have you been the downtown library? Chris Webber showcases his collection of African American artifacts there (Sacramento Room) and they are stored in SPL’s archive when not being shown.

  • Mark

    I’m happy that the Kings are staying and even more happy that this long, long ordeal is finally over and we will be able to get on with other things. But we should put this all in proper perspective. I would often overhear people say that without the Kings Sacramento would have nothing, that there would be nothing to do here. Of course, that said far more about them than it did our city. Nonetheless for a city of our size we do have a dearth of public amenities. Which is ionic and sad since so much of our economy is dependent on public funding. So while we are celebrating this big civic victory let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we can stop at a new arena. For those who live for the Kings and imagine the arena will be some sort downtown savior this might be their be all and end all. However, for the rest of us the city still has a lot of work to do.

    • Ben Ilfeld



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