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For the never-say-die Kings fan, Jan. 9 was an important day.
It was the premiere of Small Market, Big Heart at the historic Crest Theatre in Downtown Sacramento. A documentary designed, as their promo states, “to share the compelling 26-year story of the people of Sacramento and their battle to get and keep a professional sports franchise”
The film played once more on January 21, on KXTL FOX 40, but then went silent.
On Tuesday, May 15, the outstanding documentary and collective vision of producers James Ham and Blake Ellington as well as director Tobin Halsey, will finally be available across the nation by way of the Small Market, Big Heart website (www.smallmarketbigheart.com) for the first time ever on the Internet. The trailer can be viewed here:
The story didn’t get the happy ending makeover the producers had hoped for, as the new entertainment and sports complex in the Sacramento Rail Yards has been put on ice, at least for the time being.
The updated version being released tomorrow includes a newly filmed epilogue by Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson that brings the film current.
“A sequel is in the works,” Ham said via telephone, “but we felt this was the proper time to allow the film to be seen by a larger audience. Basketball fans everywhere need to know this story.”
When the trio sat down to discuss the possibility of making a documentary that would, not only inform the masses about the history of the Kings tenuous stay in Sacramento, but look to inject locals with a newfound rabidity for their only professional sports franchise, they looked to a similar situation that had occurred several years before in Seattle, Washington.
The film Sonicsgate shared the gut wrenching story of Seattle’s loss of their beloved basketball team. Call it a model for what Ham, Ellington and Halsey were looking to do, but with one huge difference.
In Seattle, the team was already moving to Oklahoma City and the story was one of “what happened?” and “why did we lose our team?”
For the makers of Small Market, Big Heart, the struggle was just beginning as they built the film as events were still unfolding.
“We saw an opportunity to tell an incredible story in real time,” said Ham. “To try and humanize the fight of the people of Sacramento.”
Ham, an editor of Cowbell Kingdom, an ESPN True Hoops affiliate, took offense to the fact that his local team and major source of passion, could leave town on the same sort of merits that the SuperSonics abandoned Seattle.
“Each of us have our own motivations for delving into a project like this,” stated Ham. “For me, I have two young sons that I want to raise as basketball fans and I have plenty of people I consider friends that work inside the walls of Power Balance Pavilion.”
For co-producer Blake Ellington, the mission was simple - do whatever he could to inform people that, not only that this team should not have to leave, but they darn well better stay.
Ellington is the managing editor of Bleedblackandpurple.com, a Kings blog he set up several years ago. He is also the founder of Here We Stay - a grassroots movement that began in October 2010 as an effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
“Here We Stay is a movement that was created and based on the principles that Kings fans needed the opportunity to have a voice in the process of building a new entertainment and sports complex in Sacramento and, in effect, ensure that their favorite NBA franchise stayed in town,” said Ellington.
“I felt that until that point, it was a conversation that was being held by city leaders and the team’s owners, but didn’t really take into account the feelings and passion for the team that the people of Sacramento had consistently shown over the last 27 years.”
Not only was Here We Stay a rousing success, it spawned several other “Here We...” movements, including Here We Stay nights #1 and #2 as well as Here We Build.
But the fight wasn’t over for Ellington, so he teamed up with Ham and Halsey to create Small Market, Big Heart.
“We wanted to put it out there for the Sacramento community, business leaders, politicians and fans that the desire to get something done and the desire for the fans to express their love for the team was something that needed to be seen on a large scale,” said Ellington.
“It needed to be out there for people to see in the form of a story; something that was tangible for others to see and connect with. Maybe people that weren’t involved with the grassroots movements and didn’t know the history behind what has gone on in Sacramento regarding the team, would get a chance to see that first-hand and get involved themselves.”