Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is again ramping up the effort to involve the business community in the effort to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle, "The NBA owners know that, yes, we have corporate commitments that have stepped up again at a significant level, but in a new building with new ownership, they're willing to step up even more. And that's the message when we talk about the viability and strength of our market.
Johnson says sponsorships will be part of a local bid presentation before the National Basketball Association Board of Governors meeting in mid-April. But he also says the City might have to be ready sooner, "That joint committee might want to hear from Sacramento before that and we're going to be ready to do that as well. That to me is exciting and also should show the level of confidence we have in our team and what we will be submitting."
Two years ago the Mayor secured $10 million in sponsorships for the Kings. Western Health Advantage was one of those businesses. WHA's Rick Heron says it is possible that the financial support could increase, but it's too soon to commit, "As new ownership enters town and their may be new assets available, or new opportunities to increase our advertising exposure, we'd certainly consider increasing the investment"
Some of those sponsorships have disappeared. The local Jiffy Lube group didn't renew in 2012. Jiffy Lube's Matt Graham says it's premature to talk sponsorships again, but, "If the mayor reached out, we'd definitely take that call."
Last month, more than 20 local businesses pledged $1 million each to become part of a local ownership group.
Warren Smith with Sacramento Professional Soccer says he believes there are still plenty of other businesses that could contribute at a significant…if slightly lower level, "If he is able to accomplish what he thinks he can to be able to put a new ownership together then absolutely. I know lots of people that aren't participating currently that would probably choose to if they felt better about who they were spending their dollars with."
Johnson has $1 million ownership pledges from 25 people total. He says his goal was three-to-five people with million-dollar contributions to the local ownership effort.
The Mayor has not announced the major equity partners needed for a local bid, but says he is "extremely confident" those partners will have a bid for the Kings that includes a new arena before the City's self-imposed March 1st deadline.