Auburn City Council answers Sacramento mayor's call for Kings support

Auburn 'all in' for Kings to stay, councilman says
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn City Councilman Keith Nesbitt recalls sitting next to Kevin Johnson at a mayoral meeting shortly after the former NBA All-Star was first elected, and Johnson stressing the importance of reaching a regional consensus in some area matters.

So when a memo from Johnson’s chief of staff asked the Auburn City Council to draft a resolution declaring its support of the Kings staying in Sacramento, it reminded Nesbitt of that day years ago.

“It’s kind of on that same vein,” he said. “What the NBA and those people need to see is regional support, so people in Auburn and the council in Auburn is all in favor of keeping the Kings.”

The Auburn City Council unanimously approved at its most recent regular meeting a resolution declaring the city “strongly supports” keeping the Kings in Sacramento.

“I’ve always said, ‘We win as a region,’” Johnson said in a statement. “When cities like Auburn step up and pass resolutions, it makes our case to the NBA that much stronger.”

With the NBA All-Star Weekend in full effect, Johnson went to Houston in hopes of bolstering support for the Kings to stay in California’s capital city. A Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer has reached an agreement to purchase the Kings and plans to move them.

“If Mayor Kevin Johnson is able to go during (All-Star Weekend) and say, here’s my 24 business owners pledging a million dollars each, here’s all the ticket sales, here’s all the jurisdictions in support of remaining here, he has some good solid evidence that this community wants the Kings here,” Councilwoman Bridget Powers said.

Weeks from the March 1 deadline for teams to file for relocation, Johnson had reached out to surrounding communities to express their support of having the Kings stay in California’s capital city. Neither Nesbitt nor Powers could recall Sacramento calling on Auburn in such a way in the past.

Some other jurisdictions to recently sign similar resolutions include Elk Grove, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, West Sacramento, Sacramento County and Yolo County, according to the mayor’s office.

Powers has been a part of the Think BIG Sacramento movement rallying support for the Kings to stay put. She encouraged any Auburn residents who want the Kings to stay in Sacramento to write Johnson’s office.

“There are 800 jobs generated just by the Kings being here,” Powers said. “How many of those are Placer County citizens? I don’t know that number, but there definitely are some. And, also, having a National Basketball Association team here, it is just a great venue for people who enjoy sports.”

Nesbitt wanted to ensure the resolution did not require Auburn to support using any taxpayer money for a new arena.

“If they build the stadium, they have to do it in some other way than at the taxpayer’s expense,” he said. “No one really knows how it’s going to turn out, but nothing really in the resolution stated anything in support of it being a burden on the taxpayers.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern expects a concrete plan from Johnson within the next two weeks, with the aim of settling the Kings’ future by mid-April.

Stern said Johnson will attend the April 17-18 owners meeting in New York to deliver his proposal, but Stern said “if the mayor follows through on what he’s told us, we’ll have it comfortably by March 1.”


Jon Schultz can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews. The Associated Press contributed to this report.