SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento Kings fans packed Sleep Train Arena Friday night to show the NBA that the team belongs in the capitol city.
Fans made it their mission to sellout the game against the Utah Jazz, calling it “Here We Buy Night.”
However, they just barely missed their mark. Still, this grass roots effort to keep the Kings kicked into high gear.
There was the sizzle of tri-tip, and hanging balloons to let you know where the party was starting as fans tailgated before the game.
“Everyone was so enthused. I said, ‘let’s have a tailgate,’ ” fan Ernest Wong said.
Tailgate they did. Two-hundred strangers gathered in the parking lot to get ready for the game, but the fire was also blazing inside the arena as a near sellout
“I think it’s awesome. There is already more people here than normal, and this definitely should say something to the board of governors,” said Linda Curtis.
Many were here on their own to make a statement, and others donated tickets through the Here We Buy website.
“It started with trying to get people to step up and get people here to tell the NBA they want the team to stay here,” said Ed Montes of the Here We Stay organization.
This allowed kids like 4-year-old RJ to go to the game.
“Go Kings, go!” he cheered.
“He loves being here. He loves rooting for the Kings at home. So it’s even better to be here live,” RJ’s mom Jessa Hartford said.
The old arena was rocking as fans waved signs during each break in the game; and the Kings were able to pour in a few trick shots of their own, thanks to the support coming from those who helped send a few extra passionate fans to the game.
“We raised about $9,400, and we were able to buy 626 tickets through donations,” said Here We Buy Coordinator Kevin Fippin.
It’s a staggering amount for just a week’s worth of work.
“Just speaks to the character of Sacramento, we have unbelievable fans,” fan Scott Brewer said.
Mayor Kevin Johnson said nights like this give him the fuel he needs as he gets ready to head before the NBA Board of Governors.