Sacramento makes new case for keeping Kings


Sacramento makes new case for keeping Kings

April 19, 2011

SACRAMENTO (AP) Business and political leaders in Sacramento have another chance to persuade the NBA that the Kings should stay in town, and they'll put a full-court press on league officials this week.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star, said Tuesday that the city had feared the Kings' move to Anaheim might be a done deal. But he said at least some of the NBA owners at last week's league meetings appeared impressed when the city presented 7 million in commitments for new advertising, ticket purchases and other financial support from local businesses and other backers.

On Tuesday, the tribe that operates Thunder Valley Casino northeast of Sacramento agreed to commit an additional 1 million to back the Kings in Sacramento, bringing the total to at least 8 million. None of that money would go toward the multi-million dollar cost of building a new arena, the repeated sticking point in years of efforts to keep the team happy in Sacramento.

"The fact that we're here and we bought two more weeks, that is a big, big deal," Johnson said at a City Hall news conference, his first since returning from the meetings in New York City. "We get a chance to put our best foot forward."

RELATED: Johnson takes plea to NBA
Commissioner David Stern said last week that the league wanted to "do a little bit more fact-finding" and the NBA granted the Kings' owners another extension until May 2 to file paperwork requesting a relocation. The original deadline passed April 18.

The NBA will send two representatives to Sacramento on Thursday, including relocation committee chairman Clay Bennett, chairman of the ownership group for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The franchise was the Seattle SuperSonics until 2008, when Bennett relocated the team amid calls for a new arena.

Besides giving the Maloof family, which owns a controlling interest in the Kings, more time to formally request league approval for a move, the extension also gives Sacramento more time to make its case to keep the Kings and show how it could build a new arena the team wants.

Local backers want both the Kings and the Maloofs to stay in Sacramento, Johnson said. Failing that, they'd like to keep the team with new owners, or attract a different NBA franchise. The emergence of supermarket tycoon Ron Burkle as an interested buyer for the team created a buzz last week, but Johnson said he may not be a factor in the discussion if the city can make the case that Sacramento is a viable market for the Maloofs and the Kings. The Maloofs have insisted they won't sell the team.

To make their case to the NBA, Johnson said, local backers will stress the strength of the fan base, the fact that Sacramento is in a top 20 media market with no other pro sports team, and the new surge of support from businesses.

RELATED: Kings' application extended
While a full financial and feasibility analysis of a sports and entertainment complex in Sacramento won't be complete by May 2, Johnson said he hopes to present some preliminary data on alternatives and revenue streams to the NBA by that date.

Johnson kept beating the drum for the local effort Tuesday. His visit to the tribal council of the United Auburn Indian Community won a commitment of 1 million, said Doug Elmets, spokesman for the tribe and Thunder Valley. The tribe, he said, "sees value not only in keeping the Kings in Sacramento, but in being part of the business community commitment that Kevin Johnson is seeking." The tribe already pays for a luxury box at Power Balance Pavilion, and expects the 1 million would largely go for advertising and sponsorships, Elmets said.

The mayor also was working out the details for a meeting Wednesday with political leaders around the Sacramento area to present a broad regional appeal to the NBA.

The mayor declined to identify what businesses were involved in the 7 million in new commitments of support, but said he hopes to disclose them after they've been discussed with the league.

Johnson said he didn't know much about an effort to collect signatures in Anaheim to force a public vote on 75 million in financing for a Kings deal, not expected until June 2012. "I'd be dishonest if I didn't say I was glad that was going on" because it may buy Sacramento more time, he said.

Rob Stutzman, a Sacramento political consultant who is organizing the signature drive, said the effort is in its final stages and could be wrapped up by the end of the week. The signature drive has been backed by many small contributors, he said, and has not worked with the Burkle group. Among the backers and organizers of the Committee to Save the Kings are former city councilman Robbie Waters, real estate investor Ethan Conrad and steel company executive Steve Ayers.

Bill Murray to conduct seventh-inning stretch in Game 3 of World Series


Bill Murray to conduct seventh-inning stretch in Game 3 of World Series

For the first time since 1945, Wrigley Field will play host to a World Series game.

As the Cubs welcome the Cleveland Indians into town this weekend for Games' 3, 4 and 5 of the Fall Classic, several celebrities and Cubs legends will be in attendance.

The Cubs announced on Friday that actor and comedian Bill Murray, who has been a staple at Cubs games this postseason, will conduct the 7th inning stretch during Game 3.

This won't be Murray's first rodeo singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at Wrigley Field.


Del Rio encourages Raiders fans to take over in Tampa

Del Rio encourages Raiders fans to take over in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla – Raiders fans are a migratory bunch. While the Bay Area remains its largest stronghold, the franchise has supporters across the country and will attract large crowds in opposing cities.

That’s logical in destination cities like New Orleans and Nashville, but they’ve had solid turnouts in less attractive destinations like Baltimore and Jacksonville.

Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter hopes that doesn’t happen Sunday when the Raiders invade Tampa Bay. Both teams sport similar mascots, and he doesn’t want Raider Nation feeling comfortable on the Raymond James Stadium pirate ship.

“Let’s keep those Raiders jerseys out of the lower bowl,” Koetter said after beating San Francisco in Santa Clara last week. “Let’s get some Bucs jerseys in there. Let’s rock that place next week.”

Koetter knows Raiders fans travel well, and imploring season ticket holders to hold onto their seats is a reaction to recent games where visiting fans have turned out in droves.

“Every place you play on the road is different, as far as how hard it is to play there and how hard it is to hear there,” Koetter said. “We’re not fooling anybody that some teams travel a lot better than others. Players notice, coaches notice. That’s the truth. And I’m 1,000-percent aware that the more you win, the better it gets. But with that said, do we have a home-field advantage? That’s our job to create it.”

The Buccaneers haven’t rewarded paying customers recently. They’re 3-15 at home since the start of 2014 and have lost both home games this season. Visiting fans can often get tickets easier without a good product on the field, especially in a market without strong roots.

“When you can’t hear, it’s rough,” Koetter said. “When you have to do everything silent cadence, everything hand signals, you can’t hear yourself think. Compared to if you’ve got to go to silent cadence in your own stadium.”

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t mind that one bit. Raiders fans have been heard in all four road games thus far. It’s uncertain how big the visiting crowd will be, but Raiders fans have enjoying cheering on a winner in 2016.

“They’re a big presence,” Del Rio said after Friday’s practice. “We really appreciate their support. They do a tremendous job. Our fans travel. Wherever we’ve been thus far, they’ve been there in large numbers and I think it’ll be the same (on Sunday). Come on out, Raider Nation. We’re excited about it.”