Downtown business owner says new owners of Sacramento Kings have turned the tide

From Sacramento Business Journal

By: Jeff Randle

The excitement is undeniable. Season tickets are selling quickly. A coach and general manager have been hired. New talent is being drafted. The Sacramento Kings are here to stay with a dynamic new ownership group led by Vivek Ranadive and a big, global vision of what can be done locally.

This vision is contagious, giving small-business owners a sense of optimism about Sacramento’s long term economic viability for the first time in many years.

Keeping the Sacramento Kings and building an arena is much bigger than basketball. The victories of the last several months represent a reversal in attitude, real promise for our community and a real opportunity to redefine California’s capital. It’s happened in other cities across America — Cleveland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Memphis, to name a few — and it’s up to us to make sure it happens in Sacramento.

One need only look at K Street downtown to recognize that Sacramento was facing a “do-or-die” moment. Much of K Street is home to empty storefronts without anything to draw tourists or local residents. With steeply declining tax revenue, local government was forced to make deep cuts to critical public services. Make no mistake: Sacramento’s economic foundation was crumbling, with no discernible signs of growth. Sacramento needed a seismic market correction.

We can’t thank Major Kevin Johnson enough for his tenacity to keep the Kings and build a new downtown arena. Yes, he knew the importance of keeping the Kings to the psyche of this community. But he also recognized that a dynamic organization supported by local owners with a state-of-the-art building would be the catalyst to reverse our community’s economic decline and replace it with unprecedented opportunity.

Downtown investment will create private-sector jobs and a diverse tax base to sustain local governments throughout the region. Mayor’s Johnson’s vision was to build an entirely new economic foundation where a professional basketball team could spawn thousands of entrepreneurial opportunities. This transformation will turn the K Street we know today into prime real estate for all types of investment.
That’s big news for small businesses that are striving to thrive in the Sacramento region. It’s already creating a vibe and new interest. New downtown development sends a signal that Sacramento’s a smart play today that can deliver long term returns. Decline is being replaced by optimism and — for the first time in years — real opportunity.

Construction of the new arena, new business opportunities in the immediate area and permanent jobs from the facility represent the first wave of success. Once the facility is up and running, Sacramento can realize its potential as a community where the quality of life attracts a second wave of economic investment and activity.

Ranadive has an international footprint as well as strong connections to the Silicon Valley. Sacramento’s attraction as a place for business will only grow. Think new hotels, convention business and other large-scale development tethered to Sacramento’s new downtown. The local owners also provide value in that they also have a commitment to seeing the community succeed.

With a new economic foundation, the third and most important wave of benefits is realized. Sacramento will always be the seat of state government, but it doesn’t have to be a government town. Private-sector expansion will provide tax revenue to fund municipal services, public education infrastructure and health care. Instead of raising taxes, Sacramento will become home to many new tax-paying businesses and their employees.

Ultimately, the lesson for businesses is that economic growth is all about momentum. We’re stopping the negative momentum, replacing it with new action that will foster conditions upon which entrepreneurs of all sizes will want to invest and succeed in Sacramento. While the Kings will play 41 games at home, a new and revitalized downtown will be open for business 365 days a year. I can’t wait.
Jeff Randle is president and CEO of Randle Communications, a Sacramento public relations/public affairs firm.