May 15, 2013 was an enormous day for Sacramento and Kings fans. The NBA owners flocked to the Hilton Anetole in Dallas, Texas for the final vote on whether the Kings would be trading in their black and purple for green and yellow. The confidence on the faces of Mayor Kevin Johnson and Vivek Ranadive as they entered the meeting room was telling.
It proved to tell the whole story that day, in fact. Because in the end, former NBA Commissioner David Stern and the board, well the majority of the board, sided with Sacramento.
The emotional onslaught began.
The Kings were staying.
But there was a stipulation.
Sacramento has to open a new shiny arena in downtown Sacramento by 2017 or we all are doomed for another era of uncertainty.
Last Thursday, Kings fans reflected on that day last May (Here We Stayed Day) that was bittersweet for so many. But for all intents and purposes, Tuesday's Sacramento City Council meeting marks the final hurdle before the true fate of the Kings can be sealed for good. A yes vote on Tuesday night in what will no doubt be a packed house, will keep the Kings in Sacramento for at least 35 years. But just as important is that it also will set in motion an enormous project on a scale that many Sacramentans have never seen in this region. Once that 779,000 square-foot arena opens in 2016, an urban core and legitimate nightlife will be a reality. Not to mention the approximately 4,000 jobs it will create.
There may be some speed bumps along the way in the construction process, but with a yes vote tonight, this thing is getting done and in October 2016 there will be an event downtown that this city has never seen, except maybe for tuxedo opening night at Arco Arena.
Just for fun though, think about the Kings in the playoffs in 2016 - the purple lights lighting up Sacramento's core as the national telecast goes to the overhead shot. The buzz downtown in the streets, restaurants, bars and Light Rail as the rally flags fly from cars on J Street and in curbside windows. All of the state workers heading over to the outdoor plaza that is part of the arena plans.
Take your time….
Go ahead and take more time to think about it….
There are no guarantees that the Kings make the playoffs in 2016 of course because the team itself still needs a lot of work. But hey, the imagery is something I think most of us covet.
But even beyond this, a yes vote means that the next generation of Kings fans will have a team growing up. They also will see a Sacramento that has a vibrant downtown, a destination city with, hopefully, more companies starting up or relocating to Sacramento. And maybe more of the next generation will start careers in Sacramento when they are older instead of taking the first flight out of the city of trees to begin their futures like many young professionals do now.
Can Sacramento be more than the middle point between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe? To some it already is much more, but this project could open the eyes of many current residents of the region and future residents/companies.
If the council votes yes, the cranes will eventually rise downtown. (Hey, maybe the Kings were on to something with that Here We Rise slogan after all.) Downtown will never be the same. The franchise may never be the same. Kings fans - well, they never change. That building is going to be a reflection of that I would imagine - a symbol of defiance and a perpetual sign of civic pride.
And that means something whether or not the Kings get the first pick in today's NBA lottery.
Whatever the vote is, if it is a yes, it will be something that sets the course for a new future for our community.
I hope to see some of you at the city council meeting tonight for what is going to be quite the event. The meeting begins at 6 p.m., but you better get there early if you want a seat.
In case you hadn't heard, here is a breakdown of the events from the Kings.
The #PowerForward Rally begins at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall (Courtyard, 915 I Street). There will be multiple LED screens showing a live broadcast of the NBA Draft Lottery. The city council meeting begins at 6 p.m. There will be food trucks and the first 1,000 attendees will get a free "Power Forward" shirt. The Kings also want everyone wearing purple.
KBAR at 1000 K Street will have overflow city council meeting viewing as well as the lottery beginning at 4 p.m. Folks will be hanging out there until 2 a.m. after the council meeting as well.
If you would like to reach out to the city council members about the arena project leading up to Tuesday night's meeting, here is their contact information.
Mayor Kevin Johnson
Angelique Ashby (District 1)
Allen Warren (District 2)
Steve Cohn (District 3)
Steve Hansen (District 4)
Jay Schenirer (District 5)
Kevin McCarty (District 6)
Darrell Fong (District 7)
Bonnie Pannell (District 8)