RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

A crowd of supporters react to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson during a news conference announcing the purchase of the Maloof's ownership of the Sacramento Kings at City Hall in Sacramento onFriday, May 17, 2013.

Fans seeking Kings tickets at 'frenzied' pace; rally moved to Thursday

Published: Monday, May. 20, 2013 - 5:41 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 - 5:38 pm

Fan interest in the Sacramento Kings has been "frenzied" since a local group reached an agreement Friday to buy the team from the Maloof family and keep it here.

Kings officials said Monday they are receiving season ticket renewal requests at an average of one seat per minute. And a rally to celebrate the team's future in Sacramento has been moved to Thursday - and will now feature the franchise's new owner.

Vivek Ranadive, a Silicon Valley software executive, is scheduled to attend the rally at Cesar Chavez Plaza downtown. The free event is set to run from 5 to 9 p.m.

Ranadive reached an agreement to buy the Kings two days after the NBA board of governors rejected a plan that would have moved the team to Seattle. The board is expected to approve the Ranadive purchase this week.

The man leading the Seattle attempt conceded defeat Monday with a statement posted on his website. Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen congratulated "Mayor (Kevin) Johnson and the fans in Sacramento for the tremendous effort they put together to keep their team."

"This was never about Seattle fans versus Sacramento fans, and it goes unsaid that there is a mutual respect given the circumstances we have both been through," Hansen said, referring to Seattle's loss of the SuperSonics in 2008 to Oklahoma City.

Hansen added he would push forward with his effort to build an arena in Seattle and would continue talking to the NBA "regarding opportunities that may arise to return an NBA franchise to our City."

Meanwhile, a cemented future for the Kings in Sacramento has sparked renewed interest in the team.

Kings spokesman Chris Clark said the team is "accepting calls from current season ticket holders at a pace of one seat per minute."

"That's a frenzied pace," he said.

The team's ticket sales operations will broaden at 9 a.m. today to include accepting reservations for full-season tickets from fans who currently are not season ticket holders, Clark said. The team is expected to launch sales sometime this summer for partial season tickets.

Clark said people who sign up for season tickets now will have their names placed on a priority list for tickets to the planned downtown arena, which is scheduled to open for the 2016 season.

The deposit is $200 for most seats, he said.

Clark also said the team will conduct interviews this week for more than 100 sales staff jobs, and expects to hire 40 people by Friday.

Ranadive told The Bee last week that the NBA also plans to send a group of marketing and ticket sales workers this week to assist the team, which is several months behind schedule in its ticketing programs.

Ranadive is scheduled to make his first public appearance in Sacramento since his bid to buy the Kings was accepted at what's being billed as a "Long Live the Kings Rally" downtown.

Mayor Johnson had announced that homegrown rock band Cake would perform at the event. However, the announcement was apparently premature and the band is not scheduled at Thursday's rally.

"In the excitement of last week's victory, Cake's participation was announced prior to fully finalizing their availability due to a staff miscommunication," the mayor's spokesman, Ben Sosenko, said in an emailed statement.

Asked about the appearance on its Facebook page, the band replied, "We're not playing that rally. Mayor announced it without even checking with us!"

In addition to the mayor and Ranadive, the rally is scheduled to feature Kings mascot Slamson and the Kings dancers.

"This rally is an opportunity for Kings fans, the city and region to come together and celebrate the beginning of a lifetime of Kings basketball in Sacramento," the team said in a statement.

Call The Bee's Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at sacbee.com/citybeat. Follow him on Twitter @ryan_lillis.

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