STOCKTON (CBS13) — The stage was set for the Stockton Kings to make their debut at Stockton Arena. The Kings may not have won Friday night, but the fans couldn’t be more excited to have the team in their backyard.
“You know, what I’m saying, we’ve always been representing our Kings,” said one fan, who called himself John The 209 Man.
Prior to this, the team spent 10 years as the Reno Bighorns. Cesar Chavez High School singers opened up the night with the Star Spangled Banner and Sacramento Kings Owner Vivek Ranadive welcomed fans to the beginning of new era.
“Stockton, make some noise!” Mayor Michael Tubbs yelled to the crowd.
Owned and operated by the Sacramento Kings, the new minor league team hopes the capital city’s winning streak travels south to Stockton.
“We know that the Sacramento Kings fans are the greatest fans on Earth and we know that that passion and energy is going to translate right here in Stockton,” said John Rinehart, Sacramento Kings President.
The team is in the G-League, which means these players have a shot at playing with the Sacramento Kings.
“While we’re watching tonight, you’re going to see a future NBA-er,” Rinehart said.
That spirit spilled out to nearby businesses like Bella Vista, an Italian restaurant just a few blocks away from the arena.
“We are gearing up for a crazy busy night between the restaurant and the arena, said Nicki Mesenburg, a manager at Bella Vista. “I’m really hoping that people can stop focusing on the negative and try to get some positivity into Downtown Stockton.”
For longtime locals like David Bustos, a new sports team in town is a sign of good things to come.
“It’ll give them something to do,” he said. “You know some nightlife. We need more nightlife around here.”
And while the arena wasn’t packed tonight John told CBS13 it’s only the beginning.
“Once we go 1 and 0, them seats goin’ get filled up on both sides!”