SBD/May 20, 2013/Franchises

Ranadive Wants Kings To Make Up For Lost Time As Offseason Sales Kick Into Full Gear

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Ranadive said the Kings organization will be innovative and think outside the box
The NBA Kings' sale to the Sacramento-based group led by Warriors Vice Chair Vivek Ranadive "won’t close for two more weeks," but the team still “effectively reopened for business” on Friday, according to Kasler, Lillis & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Team employees "geared up to begin taking deposits for season tickets" tomorrow, and "put out a help-wanted notice for sales reps." Ranadive, who will become the Kings’ Managing Partner, plans to be in Sacramento this week to "promote ticket sales." He said that the NBA will "send out a temporary SWAT team of marketing executives to help." Ranadive said that his investor group was "already scrambling to make up for lost time." Other teams have "already launched season ticket drives." He said, "The (player) draft is coming up, we haven't sold any tickets, the arena needs to be repaired. We'll just have to move on multiple fronts simultaneously." He added that he will "proceed swiftly but cautiously on personnel decisions, on the basketball and business sides of the shop." Ranadive: "This is literally hours old. We're going to go and talk to everybody. Many of the people (working for the Kings) have great reputations." Kings co-Owner George Maloof said of selling the team, "It's a difficult day for us, but it's time for a new chapter." Maloof added that investing in the Kings was "profitable overall for the family." The Maloofs "paid about $66 million for their initial investment in the Kings in 1997." He said, "We had a couple of years, we lost our ass. But at the end of the day, we were a very profitable operation." Meanwhile, a new marketing slogan, "Long Live the Kings," is "expected to roll out" this week (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/18).

RANADIVE'S REIGN: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote Ranadive should "take a pick and a shovel, perhaps borrow a battering ram and a bulldozer, and obliterate the section of Sleep Train Arena that houses the team's basketball operations." New bosses "tend to hire people they know, so keep an eye on current Warriors." Ranadive has "yet to even reveal the extent of the anticipated overhaul," but his "track record within the software industry suggests someone who moves swiftly." He said, "We had a playbook with the Warriors. I can promise you we're going to have very, very, very smart people. We like to be innovative, think outside the box. But we don't have any preconceived notions about who can do what. We have very open minds" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/18). Tibco VP/Dir of Business Development Roger Craig, whose software company is led by Ranadive, said that along with Ranadive's "drive," he "brings a hands-on leadership style." The SACRAMENTO BEE's Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak noted he has been "known to pitch in on sales calls at Tibco." Craig said, "He hates to lose. I don't care if someone's grandmother is on the tennis court, he's going to beat that person." Ranadive on Friday said that his "first order of business is to ensure the sale of large numbers of season tickets for Kings games." Ranadive said that Kings fans should "expect to see him at every home game." He added that he also "plans to attend team practices regularly, suggesting he will transfer his hands-on business philosophy to his new role as lead owner of the Kings." Ranadive: "I'd like to under-promise and over-deliver (on the team's success). We're building for the future." Investors partnering with Ranadive "have their own colorful backgrounds." The team "includes Katrina Garnett, founder of an online social network that allows wealthy families to share travel experiences," and Arjun Gupta, who founded a venture capital firm. The late addition to the team is Raj Bhathal, whose company RAJ Manufacturing is "one of the largest swimwear companies in the country, with such brands as Hurley and Nautica" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/19).

MAIN PLAYERS
Warriors Vice Chair Vivek Ranadive
Qualcomm founders the Jacobs brothers
RAJ Manufacturing Owner Raj Bhathal
INVESTORS
Venture capitalist Arjun Gupta
24 Hour Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov
Leap Motion President & COO Andy Miller
Former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer & general counsel Chris Kelly
Developer Mark Friedman
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Katrina Garnett

SACTO'S SAVIORS: The SACRAMENTO BEE's Voisin wrote of NBA Commissioner David Stern, "We could nominate him for sainthood." Voisin: "We could erect a statue in front of the downtown arena. ... But at the very least, we should schedule a David Stern Day before the NBA commissioner retires Feb. 1, 2014, because this is the man who saved the Kings. Again and again." Stern "resisted, explored, implored, engaged, tutored, explained." He did so for "all the right reasons." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will "be the first to tell you this: Stern showed him the way." Johnson on Saturday said, "The commissioner set out very clear guidelines. He said, 'If you want to keep a team, go read the NBA bylaws, go read the constitution, and you will see why teams leave under relocation. If you have fans who support the team and can build a building, it's very tough for a team to be pulled from a city. Understand that section and build your case.'" An anonymous owner after the BOG vote said, "David still has control of that room, man. ... Stern has a real affinity for Sacramento and a strong belief in small markets and cities with only one team." The owner added that Stern "mentioned Portland, San Antonio, a couple others, and explained that this is why the NBA is special. He's the one who got it done" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/19). In Sacramento, Marcos Breton wrote Johnson is "getting a lot of praise for assembling an ownership group to buy the team -- and deservedly so -- but that might not have been his biggest achievement." Johnson "refused to accept someone else's vision of the city," and "understood that the Kings are a regional asset that had to be preserved for economic and emotional reasons." Johnson from the start "radiated strength, class, cunning and a never-say-die attitude" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/19).

SEATTLE SLEUTHS: In Seattle, Nick Eaton asked why did former Kings bidder Chris Hansen "reportedly decline a refund of the $30 million deposit" he made on the franchise? The denial on the surface "could suggest Hansen is setting the scene for legal action against the league for blocking his contractually binding purchase agreement with the Maloof family," which would have seen the team relocated to Seattle. But there have been "numerous reports that Hansen does not plan to file any lawsuits." Perhaps Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who bid with Hansen, "wanted to show their appreciation to the Maloofs for sticking with the Seattle agreement through Wednesday’s NBA vote" (SEATTLEPI.com, 5/17). Also in Seattle, Bob Condotta wrote last week's decision to block the Kings' relocation to Seattle brought "one ray of light -- an apparent softening of the league's stance on expansion." In that "might rest the best hope for the NBA returning to Seattle anytime soon" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/19). ESPN.com's Kevin Pelton wrote it was hard for those in Seattle to "interpret the rejection of the move as anything but a rejection of Seattle." What "really hurt was the NBA's unwillingness to seriously consider expansion as a win-win solution to the Sacramento-Seattle conundrum." Pelton: "Surely, part of the league's thinking is that by the time the next TV contract is wrapped up there may be more clarity about troubled franchises elsewhere." The "problem with this logic is that the clock is already ticking on Seattle's plan for a new arena." This fall's mayoral election in Seattle could "sharply change the political landscape" (ESPN.com, 5/17).

EXHORTING EXPANSION: In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote if there is "any consolation, Seattle has risen to potentially No. 1 on the NBA’s list of future locations." Yet the league "has no intention of expanding, so the wait could be extended." This likely was Seattle’s "last hope of regaining an NBA franchise during this decade." The "responsibility" of determining if Seattle should get a future franchise "may lie in the lap" of NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, who will succeed Stern (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/19). Also in Boston, Mark Murphy wrote the final stages of Stern's 29-year tenure as NBA commissioner have "given way to an almost surreal arrogance." There is "no other way to translate the shot he took at Seattle last week" when he started off the post-vote press conference by noting he had to be quick because he had to catch a flight to Oklahoma City. Murphy wrote Stern was "reportedly angered by the overly-aggressive ways" of Ballmer, so he "unloaded" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/19).
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