Kings president Chris Granger has been making his list, checking it twice – and again and again and again – and working intently on festivities for the October 2016 opening of Golden 1 Center downtown.
The plan is for something comparable to a month-long party, with Maroon 5 already set for Oct. 15. While the normally accommodating Granger was unusually tight-lipped about the additional concert possibilities, other than to acknowledge that conversations are varied and extensive, the opening acts for other arenas have been impressive; the pressure is on.
▪ L.A.’s Staples Center, 1999: Bruce Springsteen
▪ Houston’s Toyota Center, 2003: Fleetwood Mac
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▪ Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, 2005: The Rolling Stones
▪ Kansas City’s Sprint Center, 2007: Elton John
▪ Orlando’s Amway Center, 2010: Vicente Fernandez
▪ Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, 2012: Jay-Z
Given the caliber of the competition, there can be only one winner here, and that is the same superstar who closed Candlestick Park on Aug. 14, 2014. No one beats out Sir Paul McCartney for a number of reasons, foremost among them the fact his music transcends generations, appeals to grandkids and grandparents alike. He is inclusive and exclusive. His words resonate at weddings and funerals. Then there’s the fact that hundreds and perhaps thousands of fans – I personally heard from several – were stuck in traffic when he strummed his first chords for the final act at the ’Stick.
“Blackbird.” “Eleanor Rigby.” “A Day in the Life.” “Hey Jude.”
With a little help from an old friend, “Imagine.”
On to other topics this holiday week ...
▪ Thursday night’s San Diego Chargers-Raiders matchup could represent the final NFL game at O.co Coliseum because of tired and familiar old reasons. Poor facility. Political infighting. No progress on a public-private financing venture at its current site. But this is where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to intervene and, in essence, convince his owners that greed should succumb to common sense: The two Bay Area teams should share Levi’s Stadium. And this is not a novel concept. The New York Jets and Giants financed their shared facility, with both maintaining equity in the stadium. The Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers, by comparison, are tenants at Staples Center. Considering the Raiders’ passionate and loyal following in Oakland and their not-so-successful previous endeavor in Southern California, Goodell and his brain trusts should devise a financial compromise that satisfies both parties. The Raiders’ presence would certainly add some color to that state-of-the-art but sterile building in Santa Clara.
▪ The NBA will be all over the television with five games on Christmas Day, including the marquee Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers matchup at 2 p.m. That will be fun. But this is more important: MVP Stephen Curry will be featured in public service announcements calling for an end to gun violence that will be shown throughout the day. In an unusually political development, the league is lending its brand and prestige to “Everytown for Gun Safety,” a campaign founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in response to the country’s alarming death toll from shootings. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Joakim Noah also speak out on the issue.
▪ Gun violence doesn’t skip neighborhoods. Nicole Clavo, the mother of slain Grant High School defensive back JJ Clavo, is remarkably brave. She keeps pleading for information, keeps telling her story, reminding folks that JJ is our son, too.
▪ The Kings make their first playoff appearance since 2006 if All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins does the following: realizes the modern NBA game is played at a faster pace; that superior passing teams tend to be the most successful; that teams that share the ball are more inclined to help each other defensively; and that the game would come much easier and he would be much healthier if he shed 15 to 20 pounds. Additionally, improved conditioning would definitely enhance his prospects for making the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
▪ Rajon Rondo has reintroduced the pass to this region of Northern California. How many years has it been? Can anyone even count that high?
▪ UC Davis, the 2014-15 Big West Conference regular-season men’s basketball champion, is in a rebuilding year and in a bit of a slump (4-6), while the Sacramento State men barely missed hosting the Big Sky Conference tournament last season. But folks can actually talk about the Aggies and Hornets (6-4) without fear of being mocked. Jim Les, Brian Katz and their programs are ascending, with the Hornets determined to finance a new events center via aggressive fundraising. Orangevale resident Ernest Tschannen is one cool elderly gentleman. Though an admitted basketball neophyte, he kick-started Sac State’s fundraising campaign with $750,000 because he was impressed with Katz and liked the campus while acknowledging the need for a facility to host games, concerts and graduations, among other things.
▪ So about this rush for a Major League Soccer franchise. While there is little doubt MLS officials envision a team and stadium downtown at some point, there is something to be said for prudence and practicality. Why not wait until Golden 1 Center and the surrounding entertainment district is completed, affording residents an opportunity to adapt to boots-on-the-ground and public transportation before leaping to construct a nearby soccer stadium? Sacramento isn’t exactly swimming in corporate dollars, either. There is a finite number of sponsorships available, as we learned during the endless arena saga.
▪ While on the subject of the new arena, let’s hope city officials take some soap and water to the light rail system before the arena’s grand opening in October. The trains desperately need a bath.
▪ Finally, we will sing it one more time. Let it Be. Bring on McCartney.