The new Kings ownership group has a lot going on, from rebuilding the roster, to the new downtown arena, to rebranding the team's image.
The next question in our 30Q series is "How much will the fan experience change next season?" and we thought one of the best people to answer this would be new Kings co-owner Andy Miller.
Miller is one of the "whale" owners who stepped up to keep the Kings in Sacramento earlier this year and he has been more than willing to interact with fans on social media. He is the president and chief operating officer of Leap Motion, a San Francisco-based company that develops motion-controlled software that can be used on everything from computers to robotic surgery technology.
Check it out.
OK, back to my boring computer.
Miller also is the former vice president of mobile advertising with Apple, where he reported directly to the late Steve Jobs. Now, Vivek Ranadive has put him in charge of technology for the new Kings ownership group moving forward.
Miller was kind enough to accept our request to answer the question about the fan experience next season.
"I think it will change dramatically. Obviously, it will change incredibly when the new stadium is built because that is just going to be an unbelievable piece of Sacramento and California, and it's going to have such a different vibe with the fan and in-game experience and people around the arena, and just the environment of downtown.
But for next year, I would say it will change significantly, and I think it changes for the core reason that the Kings haven't been a lot of fun and there's been, obviously, instability and apprehension about whether the team is staying. So it is hard as a fan to emotionally invest in something that you are afraid is going to disappear. So that is a big benefit of keeping the team.
And we have a different group of players and coaches and front office people. There's going to be a different level of attention and respect for the fans, which I don't think existed over the last few years. So people will notice that when they come in with how they are greeted and the experience that they have. And we are trying to make as many improvements incrementally to the overall game-day experience that we can in the arena [Sleep Train Arena], even with the fact that we aren't going to be there in a couple of years. So the dollar investment needs to be sort of weighed against that.
And then, I think the level of play will be better - the hustle and the desire. We have a great coach, very defensive-minded. I think the games will just be more exciting because we'll probably be in more of them [Laughs].
From sort of a technology standpoint, and in and around the game, we're doing a lot of things to try to get the fans more involved from a social media perspective. Our app is going to be a real centerpiece that will evolve month over month as the season unfolds and we add new features.
And then, just overall in and around the arena for things that have been tremendously lacking over the years.
What types of things are you talking about?
Well, I think the bar is pretty low there. You know, so amenities [Laughs]. I get plenty of pictures of people sending me broken toilets and urinals, and it's the same one that has been broken for three years. It's funny, but it's not funny. So the bar is really low on that.
To things like Wi-Fi; you can't have an amazing app experience and connected fan base if they can't connect from the arena. So we'll be working hard on that, and I think we'll see a lot of improvements, tremendous improvements by opening day.
And we have arguably the best president in the league, I mean Chris Granger is a godsend for Sacramento, and for this ownership group as well. So really, everything is up for grabs and he is looking at everything no matter who you are and what you are doing in and around the Kings experience. Whether you are at home, on the radio, on TV, on satellite, in India, in the stadium. He's taking a real comprehensive look at how to improve everything and move everything toward 2016 [and a new downtown arena].
Here are a few other takeaways from my conversation with Miller.
- What games he is looking forward to the most next season (he came to California from Boston and had been a Celtics fan for most of his life): "Well, now I am looking forward to the Nets games because half the Celtics are on the Nets. There are a lot of games I am interested in seeing. I think the Warriors games are going to be our real rivalry games now, which is wonderful for the area. I saw in the [San Francisco] Chronicle last week, basically they were talking about how we so called stole from them, all the way down the line from [Chris] Mullin to Pete [D'Alessandro] to coach [Michael Malone] and [Carl] Landry, but that as long as DeMarcus Cousins is ‘slovenly' that the 'Kings will never have a chance to win anything anyways.' So it will be nice to up the ante there with that relationship."
- Miller lives in Palo Alto and said when his two sons wear their Kings gear at school all the kids ask why they aren't wearing Warriors gear. But he's working on it: "We've got a lot of work to do down here, but I'm giving Kings hats out to all my kids' classmates left and right, so hopefully we will have a little fan base out here."
- He recently saw drawings and renderings of the new downtown arena, and the land around the arena, and said, "it is going to be awesome. It is going to be an iconic facility for the state of California; totally identifiable with Sacramento, but something that I think will set a real standard. Again, it's going to be 'Vivek-class.'"
- Last month, he took to Twitter to ask fans for input on additions to the Kings app and how to improve the in-game experience. He said he got hundreds of ideas from fans and shared them with the other owners and after having narrowed them down, he guarantees that some of the fans' ideas will appear in the Kings app soon.
Miller hit Twitter again Wednesday night seeking Kings artist design submissions.
Attention #KingsAllDay artists! Two part text: looking for submissions of amazing, fierce, cool graphic of Kings cowbell. Selected design..— Andrew Miller (@AndyMillerHCP) September 12, 2013
... will have a starring role in future Kings home games. Email me Amiller @ http://t.co/CWMjlFRmmS. All submissions become Kings property.— Andrew Miller (@AndyMillerHCP) September 12, 2013
Who else is ready for Oct. 30?