Not many people think of Sacramento as a sports mecca. Relatively speaking, Sacramento is not a huge city. It has a total population of 479,686 and is the 27th largest city in the United States. So what does that mean for sports? Sports teams are attracted to cities that can easily sell out stadiums, which means Sacramento with its traditional trains, cows and politics wouldn’t normally draw a sports leagues attention. In 1985 the NBA took a chance on a small cow town and it took. Ever since, the Kings have captivated many and was even rated as one of the best fan bases in the NBA. As the kings were stealing our hearts, along came the River Cats, the triple A team for the Oakland Athletics. Ever since 2000 when the Cats came to Sacramento they have lead the Minor league in attendance every year! Last but not least, the Sacramento Republic Soccer Club started in 2014. In one season they attained a championship and sellouts for every single game except for one; and they said Sacramento couldn’t support a soccer team! But I don’t want to focus on history, but rather the bright future ahead. Sacramento is flourishing and the sport teams are a mirror image of our growth and passion for our city. So what does the future hold for our valiant teams?
Let’s Start with the Kings. The kings are the finally the stable ones in the Sacramento sports scene. After ultimately wrestling the team away from the Maloofs, we now have a new owner who is dedicated to building a championship team that will stay in Sacramento. The biggest piece of that equation was funding for the building of a state of the art arena in the heart of downtown. This will not only support the Kings but many other events, such as concerts and College basketball championships. With this comes the revitalization of downtown. Everyone who has walked K St knows it needs a face-lift. The arena will do exactly that as it brings new restaurants and shops as well as jobs to this dreary area.
The River Cats are changing and growing as well. On September 17th, 2014 the Giants baseball organization reached an agreement with the Sacramento River Cats to officially take over the club and make them the triple A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. What does that mean for the city of Sacramento? It means that the mostly Giant Sacramento fan base will now have the giants as close as they will ever be to the Sacramento Valley. This means more sellouts and more money for the team as well as more influence in the baseball world. With the change in teams, comes the building of new condos and businesses right on the river in West Sacramento. Such projects as the Pioneer Bluff Development, the Pioneer Bridge and Village Parkway are expanding the Riverfront district. Put those projects together with such festivals like TBD and the Changing of the Guard for the River Cats, and that makes a bright future for baseball and the River District of West Sacramento.
Last but not least is the Republic and I am not talking politics, I am talking Professional Soccer. Ever since the Sacramento Republic played it’s first game a year ago it has captured the attention and hearts of the city. With the attention paid to the soccer team in their inaugural season, we got the attention of the executives of the Major League Soccer Federation. By selling out all but one of the games we showed them that we are a soccer crazed town, one that would support a potential new soccer team. Major League Soccer executives learned more about site plans for a professional soccer field at the downtown rail yards on Friday. Soccer fans gathered to hear from MLS executives at the end of their two-day tour. “I leave incredibly impressed with what I’ve seen,” said MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott. Mayor Kevin Johnson spoke confidently about Sacramento’s chances of getting an MLS team. “We expect to have a brand new soccer stadium right out these doors in 2018,” he said. The neglected rail yard has so much potential and will soon hopefully hold a beautiful new soccer stadium, a jewel in a new developing area. Check out more info here.
With all this development, revitalization and growth, the future looks bright for Sacramento and it’s sports teams. In 10 years from now, we will look back at 2015-2020 as the biggest growth this city has ever seen. It will improve our businesses, create jobs and provide more options for entertainment, truly making Sacramento a destination city. This is only made possible by the support and perseverance of the people of Sacramento. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Sac and I am honestly proud and excited to call this city my home. As the Kings slogan says “SACRAMENTO PROUD”.