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Reaction mixed locally to Kings relocation talks

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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While Sacramento Kings fans once crowded the Kmart parking lot in Auburn to watch playoff games on a big screen TV, these days at Pistol Pete’s Brew and Cue they don’t even need extra staff on hand when a game airs. As the Kings’ record has declined, so has its revenue and the team that once played to the echo of cowbells is now in search of greener pastures. On Feb. 24, the franchise filed a request for an extension on the NBA’s deadline today to inform the league if they plan to seek permission to relocate next season. The announcement has come with mixed reactions in Auburn. At Pistol Pete’s bartender James Brown said it would probably have minimal impact on their business. “We get a lot more people coming in to watch hockey than basketball,” Brown said. “Let’s put it this way. Do we have extra staffing during Kings games? No. Are people going to get laid-off during basketball season if they move? No. ” Charles Browning, who is a Kings fan and frequents Pete’s said he feels differently, but understands why it is being considered. “I hate to see them go, but the bottom line is its business,” Browning said. Local radio station, KAHI, AM 950, has aired the Kings games as an affiliate to reach Auburn residents. Dave Rosenthal, host of the KAHI Afternoon Report said he is not surpised about the potential move because he has seen interest in the Kings dwindle locally. “We get more phone calls if we pre-empt the Sharks with the Kings,” Rosenthal said. “People don’t get upset when it’s the other way around.” As a small collection of Kings bobbleheads still lines a shelf at KAHI, Rosenthal said that many local fans have been disappointed by the team in recent years. He remembers going to games with local business owners who had season tickets and seeing 75 people gathered around a TV after KAHI’s classic car show, watching playoffs in the Kmart parking lot. “There have been a lot of fun times with the Kings in this town,” Rosenthal said. “We’ll no longer be a key affiliate. We may lose the sponsors who only sponsor for Kings segments.” With Arco Arena detoriating, plans for a new arena not in the works and low-attendance at games the Maloof family, which owns the controlling interest in the team, is looking to areas that can offer more. The strongest contender to become the Kings’ new home is the Honda Center in Anahiem. April14-15 the Kings will discuss their options at the NBA’s Board of Governer’s meetings. Until then many local fans, including Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, are rallying to keep Sacramento’s only professional sports team around. Following a surge of support from fans led by the group Here We Stay, Monday’s game at Arco Arena was sold-out. Peter Reserdes, who works at Big O Tires in Auburn and is a long-time fan, said he hopes the support fans show will be enough to keep the Kings close. Owner of Big O, Dan Luper has season tickets, which Reserdes said has been fun for all of the Big O crew. “As a company we had the opportunity to play basketball out there against other teams since our owner is a season ticket holder,” Reserdes said. “I hope they don’t move. It will be unfortunate for everyone in Sacramento if they don’t stay.” In Placer County though, there is little fans can do aside from attending games or joining Facebook groups like sacdeflated.com, which was started by The Glass Agency, a Sacramento-based advertising agency. They put their money where their mouth was and launched a $150,000 campaign, which includes billboards around Sacramento, to hang on to the Kings. Reserdes said he wishes he was in a position to do more to see a new arena built. “We can call or write the Maloofs, but we don’t get the chance to vote,” Reserdes said. “I’d pay the one percent tax if it meant they wouldn’t leave.” AP contributed to this story. Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.