Downtown Arena: Locals take pride in their fight to keep the Kings
The potential relocation of the Sacramento Kings has brought about many things. The most intangible aspects of professional sports where vividly apparent at Sleep Train Arena and beyond.
The prestige and importance of having a team were a pillar, but the overwhelming narrative since the grassroots efforts escalated three years ago was “Bigger than basketball,”. A phrase uttered by the Sacramento Bee’s Marcos Breton, Members of local government and eventually adopted by the group known as Crown Downtown.
“I’ve just been [back in Sacramento] for about 24 hours and you can feel it in the air,” said Matthew Moore, a member of Here We Stay’s New York contingent. “You feel how important it is to the community and it makes [us] happy with everything we did.”
Perhaps Moore’s experiences with Sacramento and its basketball team have demonstrated the true value of these occurrences. When Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson campaigning in 2008, he sought to change not only the city’s composition, but also its perception.
“We don’t want to be the halfway point between Tahoe and San Francisco anymore,” Johnson stated during a debate with former Sacramento Mayor a heather Fargo.
In a seemingly everlasting quest to build an identity, Sacramento briefly took center stage amongst basketball fans, members of the national media, and even many with no apparent ties to the city or its story.
“I followed the relocation saga on a website called ‘basket usa’,” said Boris Diouani, who lives in France. [Because of this story], I feel connected to the [Sacramento] community.
Other fans and followers outside the region have tapped into this favorable identity as well. They feel it gives them a way to relate to Sacramento.
“It was one of the first things people would ask me about when the found out I was from Sacramento,” said Shanon Astley, who was in Washington D.C. Last spring with Congresswoman Doris Matsui’s contingent of U.C. Davis interns.
Astley said the story acted as a civil pillar while so far away from home.
With so many fighting to create a more favorable reputation in Sacramento, one that does not rely so heavily and government jobs, it has seemingly happened organically with this fight to save the Kings. Vida Magdalena Elena, a Kings fan who has never set foot in Sacramento sees this and identifies with it strongly.
“I haven’t been able to attend any events in Sacramento but I did have the opportunity to meet some amazing Kings family there,” Elena said. “I feel like I’m part of the family because they were so accepting of me and knew that I’m [in support of the cause].
In all the press releases, news reports, and twitter banter, perhaps Moore’s take on the situation illiterates this momentum better than most. During the “Long Live The Kings” rally in May 2013, Moore looked upon the throngs celebrating locals and had an epiphany.
“Before, when people [in New York] asked where I was from I told them ‘Auburn’” he said. “Now, I say ‘I’m from Sacramento.”
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