The occasion? A critical meeting that will likely decide the fate of the Sacramento Kings.
“We’re excited,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said as he arrived in Midtown Manhattan. “We want to thank everyone for coming out. This is an important (moment) for the history of Sacramento. You know our message has been clear all along. We’re playing to win.
“We think we have an ownership group that is qualified,” Johnson added. “We feel very confident in our group. We have a clear path to an arena. And certainly the strength of our market and the historic support of our fans is something we think is going to give us a competitive advantage.”
Johnson is leading the Sacramento charge with the potential ownership group expected to be by his side. Potential owners Vivek Ranadivé and Mark Mastrov arrived together, while Ron Burkle and members of the Jacobs family will likely be in attendance along with city of Sacramento representatives.
“We’re just gonna put our best foot forward,” Ranadivé said. ”It’s Seattle that’s asking for a mulligan, not Sacramento.”
The scuttlebutt on the street is that the Maloofs are part of the Seattle presentation, which is already underway. The joint committees along with league officials held their own private briefing before both sides pleaded their cases.
Seattle is well-represented by Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine and the potential ownership group of Chris Hansen, Steve Ballmer and members of the Nordstrom family.
The crowd has built to a fever pitch each time a cab or town car drove up to the curb. There were a few sightings of league brass. Commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, Toronto Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Ted Leonsis of the Washington Wizards all skirted by the media on their way into the hotel.
As far as fan support, a loud group of Kings fans have been on hand, chanting “Sac-ra-mento” each time someone of importance arrived. Carmichael Dave and his “Playing To Win” tour bus also made an appearance.
“This is about keeping not only a great city asset, but a state asset,” said California Senator Darrell Steinberg, who arrived with Johnson and is part of the mayor’s presentation. ” And it’s also about a billion-dollar investment in the hub of the Sacramento region in downtown Sacramento. And as the mayor said, we’re here to put it all out there and we’re here to win. We have a great case to make. This community and this state has supported this franchise for decades now and there is only one way for this saga to end – with victory.”