City welcomes G-League franchise to the 209
BY SABRA STAFFORD

Rise up and reign.

That’s the message spreading through the city of Stockton as the city welcomes it’s first NBA G-League franchise — the Stockton Kings.

In April the Stockton City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement allowing the Sacramento Kings G League team to play games at Stockton Arena beginning this fall.

“It’s going to be fantastic both for our organization, as well as the Sacramento community and the Stockton community by increasing the connectivity between the two teams to keep building on the momentum that we’ve started the last couple of years with the G-League team,” said Stockton Kings General Manager Anthony McClish.

The NBA G League is the NBA’s official minor league, preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers, and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory. Stockton is now one of 27 cities with an NBA G-League franchise.

The Kings G League team has a three-year agreement that will see them play 25 home games at Stockton Arena per year. The lease for the facility is $9,000 a game or $225,000 for the first season, and then will rise to $236,250 for the 2019-20 season and $247,500 for 2020-21. The team had previously been based in Reno and were known as the Bighorns. The team will practice and reside in Sacramento and will travel by bus to the games in Stockton.

Sacramento Kings President John Rinehart praised the move to the 209 region and said it was a chance for the fervent fan base to grow beyond the boundaries of Sacramento.

“To have a strong foot print and foothold in the Central Valley and bring what our passionate fan base does in Sacramento down here to the Central Valley, it just gives us another opportunity to use our sport as the agent of change,” Rinehart said.

“Our NBA G League team has been an incredible asset to help prepare players for NBA action and bringing the team closer to Sacramento will allow us to continue to build on that success and increase efficiency to this valuable development tool,” said Sacramento Kings General Manager Vlade Divac. “Kings fans in Stockton will now have an opportunity to see the next-generation of NBA players each week.”

In May, the franchise unveiled the team’s new logos and identity at a school rally at Hong Kingston Elementary School in Stockton. To celebrate its new identity, the Stockton Kings – along with the help of the Sacramento Kings – held a community action day following the school rally where the team hosted a Jr. Kings Clinic for select Stockton Unified School District students, surprise residents and businesses with T-shirts, shopping bags and more Stockton Kings gifts.

“This new brand not only starts a new chapter for the Kings franchise, but also for the city of Stockton,” said Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé. “Through sport, we aspire to positively impact the community and we look forward to partnering with civic leaders, businesses, school, and non-profits to continue to reinvent Stockton.”

The move to the 209 will bring an economic boost to the city of Stockton, as the city will receive a portion of ticket sales. In return, the city will upgrade the locker rooms and find free on-site parking for players and staff.

“It is my honor to welcome the Kings organization to Stockton and I look forward to watching NBA G League action at the Stockton Arena,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs. “The Kings have been known for their tremendous impact in the community and we’re excited to have their support as we continue to reinvent Stockton.”

“It’s bigger than basketball, it really is,” said Kings fan John McNabb. “It’s a chance that we can make our downtown a lot better and a lot of opportunities for the whole city.”

This July, Kings NBA G League players will join parent club rookies and sophomores for the annual NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Stockton Kings fans will have an opportunity to preview the team’s player prospect pool at the Sacramento Kings California Classic summer league – July 2-3 and 5 at Golden 1 Center. The Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat – will play six games featuring rookies selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, sophomores and athletes competing to make NBA and G League regular season rosters. In late summer following NBA training camp, the Stockton team will host open tryouts for aspiring players. The team will form its roster following the October NBA G League draft and training camp, with season play beginning in early November.

“With the addition of NBA G League Basketball in the Central Valley, each of California’s NBA franchises have a powerful asset within an hour of their headquarters to help develop their players and expand their fan bases with elite professional basketball at an affordable price in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere,” said NBA G League President Malcolm Turner.

The basketball operations staff will operate in Sacramento at the former Sacramento Kings Training Facility in Natomas, with access to the full resources of the Sacramento Kings including Golden 1 Center. Team business operations will be led by current Kings G League Vice President of Business Operations Dustin Toms in offices located in Stockton, with the full support of Kings business operations teams.

The team’s new website, StocktonKings.com, and social channels – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook – were launched following the Stockton City Council vote.