SBD/March 1, 2011/Franchises

Sellout Crowd Turns Out For Kings Game To Urge Maloofs To Stay In Sacramento

Fans brought signs to last night's game to show support for Kings
Kings fans turned out for last night's game against the Clippers to "give their full-throated endorsement of keeping the beleaguered NBA franchise in town," chanting "Here we stay" and "Not L.A.!" according to Peter Hecht of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Kings Owners the Maloofs are "pondering a move to Anaheim," but Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that last night's sellout crowd was "evidence that the capital city is not giving up and simply letting its NBA team leave town." Johnson: "Tonight's sellout shows just how much we care about the Kings and want them to stay right here in Sacramento." Officials with the mayor's office said that Johnson "hopes to meet with Kings' owners this week." The mayor's office "has been contacting civic leaders in business, labor and neighboring cities in hopes of retaining the Kings and advancing efforts to build a state of the art arena to replace the antiquated" Arco Arena. A mayoral aide said that the Kings yesterday "had delivered the first batch of promised arena feasibility documents to ... David Taylor and the ICON Venue group, who are looking into arena costs for the city" (SACBEE.com, 3/1). In California, Brian Joseph reports the crowd was "peppered" with signs reading "Our Team Our Town" and "Please Please Please Stay." The crowd "roared with a passion unseen since the days when Sacramento challenged the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 3/1). Kings co-Owner Gavin Maloof, who sat courtside for the game, said, "It's very emotional. We love the people in Sacramento" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/1).

A LITTLE ON EDGE: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin writes, "With so much seemingly at stake for local fans, the mood inside the building was more tense than celebratory, at times even funereal. Team officials looked visibly stressed. Joe and Gavin Maloof, who were greeted warmly throughout the evening, worked over several pieces of gum." The Maloofs "seemed anxious at best, troubled at worst" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/1). In L.A., Lisa Dillman notes signs "were carefully, almost lovingly, arranged in strategic, TV-friendly positions throughout the arena before the Clippers-Kings game." Civic boosters and fans "put plenty of emotional energy into this particular game, hoping to play the nostalgia card with the owners, pushing hard to boost attendance." There were "some empty seats up high in the arena but the announced crowd was a sellout of 17,317, the second of the season." Volunteers were "outside the arena passing out flyers, detailing specific chants to be delivered at key junctures." The Maloofs looked "happier and more engaged as the game progressed" (L.A. TIMES, 3/1).
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