City Beat

NBA’s Stern will be in Sacramento for opening night

The Sacramento Kings’ opening night festivities next week will include a guest whom many credit with helping to keep the team here.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday he will be in Sacramento for the Kings’ opening night game at Sleep Train Arena.

Speaking at a press conference in New York following a Board of Governors meeting, Stern said he would travel to Sacramento next Wednesday “to celebrate the success of that franchise in terms of their ticket sales and sponsorships.” He is expected to attend the game that night against Denver.

The game is not sold out, although Kings spokeswoman Donna Schwartze said that fewer than 1,000 tickets remain available.

Majority owner Vivek Ranadive attended the Board of Governors meeting this week, his first as the Kings’ owner. He was traveling on Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

Stern, whom Sacramento officials have lauded as a key ally in their successful fight this spring to block the Kings from moving to Seattle, said Ranadive reported to the NBA’s other owners that the Kings and the city of Sacramento are on schedule to open a new arena at Downtown Plaza in time for the 2016-17 season.

“It’s really going swimmingly,” Stern said. He touted the economic impact of the arena and said the facility would jump-start an “urban renewal at the center of town.”

“The owners were very excited to hear the report from Sacramento,” he said.

Stern also touched on the ongoing campaign to place a measure on the June ballot that, if passed, would require voter approval of subsidies for sports facilities in the city. Two groups are collecting signatures for that ballot measure; one is led by neighborhood activists, the other by a political organization of nonunion contractors who are upset with an agreement to have the $448million arena built with union labor.

Stern described the groups behind the proposed ballot measure as “not citizens,” but “nonunion workers who are unhappy with the deal.”

Related stories from Sacramento Bee