By Amy Thoma
I have been incredibly surprised by how strong I feel about keeping the Kings in Sacramento. In fact, I even said to Mayor Johnson when I passed him (yeah, I passed him!) during the Shamrockin’ Half Marathon, “are you going to keep the Kings here or what?”
I work in politics so irritating politicians isn’t really my thing and so until that statement came out of my mouth I didn’t realize I had a strong opinion on the subject.
Let me explain. I’m not really a passionate NBA fan. I kind of liked Michael Jordan as a kid, I’ve been to a few Kings games, but, overall, professional basketball isn’t something I love. However, I care deeply about what happens to Sacramento, how our city is viewed by the rest of the country and about keeping our city moving forward rather than backward.
For better or worse I feel invested in Sacramento. I’ve lived here five years, I own a home, my friends are here and while I may not live here for the rest of my life, I’m here for now and the near future. We’ve made some great strides as a city—midtown is thriving, the new Crocker Museum is gorgeous, and there are some great restaurants here. I can actually keep a straight face when I tell out-of-town guests that we are “well on our way to becoming a real city.”
However, I strongly believe that a hallmark of a real city is a professional sports team. Every major city in America that I can think of is home to an NFL, NBA or MLB team. Many have more than one. I don’t need to re-hash the many articles that have been written about the economic benefits a pro sports team brings and I’m not excited about getting in to the financial mess between the City, the Maloofs and re-development.
My reasons for wanting to save the Kings are more emotional- have a pro sports team brings a sense of pride and togetherness to the City. When the Kings are doing well, we come together to cheer them on. When they’re bad (to be clear I have never seen them win a game), we mourn their ineptitude together.
If the Kings leave, and it seems like they will, our leaders should work together to woo another team here. Personally I think we should kick our sweet Rivercats to the curb, renovate Raley Field and steal the Oakland As, but that’s just me.
We need to keep moving Sacramento forward. If we want to be a world-class or even national-class city, we need to act like it. Professional sports, fan or not, is part of being a real city. We already have a weird cow-town inferiority complex and losing our team will only make it worse.
With all the terrible shenanigans going on at every level of government it’s easy to be cynical and believe nothing will happen.
I sincerely hope that Mayor Johnson and others prove me wrong. Yes, the issue is complicated. Yes, there is a lot of money involved and no, answers won’t be easy. But leadership never is. It’s time for our leaders to step up and keep Sacramento going in the right direction.
Editor’s Note: For a different point of view on the Sacramento Kings, check out Robin Swanson’s article “A City Scorned”.