Three years ago, the Sacramento Kings struggled to sell the naming rights to their own arena. Now, with the business side of the franchise reinvigorated by new ownership, the team is launching its own consulting company to help outside clients sell sponsorships and burnish their brands.
The new company is called Crown Sports United and already has lined up several clients. They include Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, and the Sacramento Sports Commission.
The staff consists of approximately 15 employees who will continue to do marketing and sales work for the Kings, said team President Chris Granger, who unveiled the new company at a sports-business conference in New York last week.
Crown Sports represents an attempt to build on the goodwill the Kings have earned in the business community since an investor group led by technology tycoon Vivek Ranadive bought the team and prevented its move to Seattle in 2013.
The previous owners, the Maloofs, struggled so badly in their last few years in Sacramento that they had trouble finding a big-name company to replace Arco when the oil company relinquished the naming rights to the Kings’ arena in early 2011. Arco’s successor, a sports-bracelet marketing company called Power Balance, filed for bankruptcy less than a year after buying the naming rights. It was then replaced by Rocklin-based mattress retailer Sleep Train.
By contrast, the Kings enjoyed a significant increase in ticket sales and sponsorships in the first season under the Ranadive group’s ownership.
“People are intrigued by the way we have conducted our business with the Kings thus far, from a technology standpoint, a community standpoint,” Granger said Monday. Potential clients are “like-minded brands that want to have the same access to Vivek and our process.”
Even before Crown Sports was formally launched, Kings employees were on the job. As an example, they worked on marketing and sponsorship programs for the Sports Commission during the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in June.