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Volume 21 No. 13
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Granger leaving Kings to seek ‘next challenge’

Chris Granger surprised the industry when he unexpectedly resigned as president of the Sacramento Kings on June 19, but the well-regarded executive sensed it was time to leave when the team’s new Golden 1 Center opened last fall.

Along with the satisfaction that came from building the $558 million arena and mixed-use development in downtown Sacramento, Granger at the same time felt a creeping sense of restlessness.

Granger arrived in Sacramento in 2012 and became team president a year later.
Photo by: Tony Florez Photography
“It’s natural when the arena opened that you start to think, ‘Now what?’” Granger said last week after he announced his departure from the Kings to look for other opportunities. “I am always looking for the next challenge and the next test of myself. It’s part of my DNA.”

While executive vice president of the NBA’s team marketing and business operations division, Granger arrived in Sacramento in 2012, tasked with helping to stabilize a franchise in disarray after former owners Joe and Gavin Maloof looked to sell the franchise.

When Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé bought the franchise in 2013, he hired Granger as team president. Since then, Granger has led the franchise through a massive rebuilding effort highlighted by the opening of the Golden 1 Center last fall, which fueled a rebound in ticket and sponsorship sales.

“Chris set the gold standard for building culture and success in a sports organization,” said Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts.

The Kings’ new arena has won accolades across the industry and is the only LEED Platinum facility in sports, based on its sustainability efforts. It was named Sports Facility of the Year at this year’s Sports Business Awards, presented by SportsBusiness Journal.

“One of the most noteworthy takeaways for me is that, yes, we have done something meaningful in Sacramento but even more so is the pace of which we have done it,” Granger said. “To open a transformative arena in the heart of downtown Sacramento that has generated the economic activity in a positive way in just three years, while also building a 1.4 million square-foot mixed-use project, I don’t know if that can happen again.”

Granger said he has no specific plans on his next career move, only that he wants a job broader in scope and one that has major impact in whatever industry he chooses.

“As with the case here in Sacramento, I left my job with TMBO to do something more impactful for a broad audience and that philosophy will continue to guide me going forward,” he said. “I’m truly not focused on any one thing. It may or may not be in sports. I want to do something with meaning and it could be at a team, a league, or another property outside of sports. The world is an interesting place.”

Granger will continue to work for the Kings until mid-July.

“It isn’t easy to leave Sacramento and to leave this business, and it isn’t easy to leave Vivek and his ambition for Sacramento,” Granger said. “He and I see the world the same way. To his credit, he understands that my next development is not in Sacramento.”