A line of people wrapped around the lobby and out the front doors of Sacramento City Hall at 4 p.m. when I arrived. Dozens of Kings fans in white Crown Downtown t-shirts carrying signs showed up more than two hours early to make sure they got a seat. Multiple news trucks from every local TV station lined the street on both sides. KHTK was broadcasting live from inside the lobby while News10's anchors did their 5 p.m. newscast from a nearby sidewalk. Last night had all the buzz of an NBA playoff game, and you felt it as soon as you got within a 10-block radius of city hall.
Over the past couple of years, like so many of you, I've become something of a veteran at City Hall. We take bets on how many times Mac Worthy will get up to speak. We wonder where the BINGO guy went. (Seriously, I hope he's alright.) We take imaginary 'shots' every time a speaker mentions crack, whether it be crackhoes, crackbabies, crackhouses, or crack apartments. We get imaginary drunk from the aforementioned imaginary shots. (Seriously, crack-baby-apartment-hoes are a huge issue, apparently.) We listen to the musical stylings of Mike Barnbaum. We make jazz hands. Then we do it all again the next time an arena item is on the agenda.
So why did last night feel any different? Why did it feel so special?
If you ask me, last night was special because we're STILL fighting. Despite everything the Maloofs have thrown at us we haven't given up. Despite constantly having our hearts ripped straight from our chests, we're still making history. Last night was special because we did it AGAIN!
Last night, common sense and progress won, and the status quo took a back seat. That doesn't always happen, but i'm proud to say it seems to be happening more and more often in the city I call my home. If it wasn't already glaringly apparent how the majority of Sacramentans feel about this topic, 58 people signed up to speak on the arena issue last night, and only 13 of them opposed the arena term sheet.
I had prepared a speech. I've had months to think about it and I knew exactly what I would say if i was given the chance. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you ask, not everyone was afforded the opportunity to address council in the interest of time. I thought I'd take this chance to show you what I would have said if I had been given the chance.
"Tonight, you have the opportunity to make a choice that could change Sacramento forever. Tonight, you have the opportunity, to make a positive impact and truly begin the process of creating something tangible, that every citizen in the region can be proud of. You have a chance to create something that will have a lasting impact beyond your days as city council members in Sacramento. Tonight...I truly envy all of you.
It's not often that any of us get the chance to sit back, and realize we're playing a major roll in an amazing story, an almost unbelievable story, while that story is still unfolding. Tonight you're being given that chance. TONIGHT, you'll get to CHOOSE how you want to be remembered. TONIGHT, you will get to CHOOSE which side of history you want to be on. TONIGHT, you will define your legacy as a Sacramento city council representative.
I think the choice is easy...but what will YOU choose?
I was here in 2011, when many of you made a very similar decision to continue on a path towards progress, I spoke to you about the spirit of Sacramento. A pioneer's spirit. A yes vote tonight brings us that much closer to excavating that spirit from beneath a broken, aging, outdated mall, and realizing our destiny. It brings us closer to becoming a destination city...a world class city...a city that finally realized it's potential.
Tonight YOU make that choice.
This is Sacramento. A city founded by men and women who saw potential that so many choose to ignore today.
It's easy to say no. So many others, who sat in those very same seats before you, had no problems saying no to any number of ideas. But, the ones we remember, the ones who are regarded as heroes and visionaries, had the courage to say yes.
The budget shortfall this year was projected to be about $7.5 million. That comes only after eliminating hundreds of city jobs and many city services. Some in attendance tonight will tell you to reject the proposal before you because of that budget shortfall. I'm urging you to do the opposite. Take a look at the opportunity before you tonight. How often does an opportunity to create a revenue GENERATOR of this magnitude come across your collective desks? Maintaining the status quo can only be considered as an acceptable suggestion...when the status quo actually works in the first place.
We've talked a lot about tonight. But, now it's time to think about tomorrow. Tomorrow I want to wake up in a new Sacramento, a Sacramento that wasn't afraid to say yes. A Sacramento, that can see the same potential in itself, that a group of billionaire investors and visionaries can see. The time for progress is now and any chance we have to achieve that progress hinges on how you votes tonight. How will you be remembered?
Thank you for the wonderful job all of you have done to get us to this moment and thank you for your time."
This morning I woke up in THAT Sacramento!
We're blessed to have a Mayor, and a city council, who recognize how valuable of an asset the Sacramento Kings truly are. There's a group of billionaire investors and visionaries who feel strongly enough about Sacramento to jump into a fight that no one outside these city limits thought was winnable just a few weeks ago. We have a group of fans who continue to fight despite having been beaten down and mistreated by ownership for years. But, much like in 2011, the narrative is slowly shifting.
Make no mistake, last night was huge. Field position has changed. What once looked like 1st and goal on the 1 for Seattle a month ago, doesn't look like such a sure thing today. And with every passing day, Kevin Johnson's defense appears to be pushing the line of scrimmage further back. Last night...we got the ball back. Now it's time for the big money investors to go on the offensive.
After the meeting adjourned, flanked by supportive council members on each side, Mayor Kevin Johnson held a press conference in a packed City Hall lobby. He said, "We've done everything possible. They cannot take our team away from us. They have to know that!" And, he's right. Once again, Sacramento has done EVERYTHING they've been asked to do. Now we put our faith in the "Whales."
Take us home fellas!
Keep fighting Sacramento. #HereWeStay.