With the Sacramento Kings moving into their new downtown arena for the 2016-17 season and Sleep Train destined to be taken out of commission, the section will be looking for a new home for its championships starting in 2017.
Section commissioner Mike Garrison said Saturday that the goal is to move the championships to the new arena, but he acknowledged there may be roadblocks.
“We haven’t started any major conversations with (the Kings) yet, but we’ve had a great relationship with them, as has the state,” Garrison said. “We’re hoping that we’ll be able to continue doing this with the new arena. There’s no way there’s not going to be incurred costs if we move into a state-of-the-art arena, so whether we can afford it becomes a big piece.”
The section has played at Sleep Train for years under an agreement in which the Kings keep 60 percent of the gate, plus all parking and concessions. The section gets the remaining 40 percent of the gate, which means it assumes almost no financial risk.
“Attendance right now also is a factor,” Garrison said. “For whatever reason, the trend is less and less attendance here the last four or five years. I’m not sure why that is or what the answer might be, but that another thing we’re going to have to look at. “
There are other options should the championships have to move out of Sacramento. A source at the 10,000-seat Stockton Arena said this week they’ve reached out to the section to express interest in hosting the event. Another option might be the 8,000 seat Pavilion at UC Davis, or Spanos Center at the University of the Pacific, which seats 6,100.
This is the only section in the country that plays its championship games in an NBA arena, which through the years has become a great reward for the young athletes reaching this level.
Should the section be granted access to the new arena, it might have to raise ticket prices. General admission seating at Sleep Train has stayed at $17 for years, and this year a 5 percent (85 cent) surcharge was added as part of the funding agreement for the new arena.
“I do understand that $17 to go to a basketball game is a lot of money, especially if you’re a family of five,” Garrison said. “You can come and sit the whole day and watch six basketball games, but the reality of how many people do that? I don’t know.
“Those all are things we look at, as well as what’s the right environment for the kids and how we make it special for them.”
Oops – After losing in four previous section title game appearances, the Vanden girls broke through Friday night in Division III with a victory over Rio Linda.
As is the custom, the head coach (Allison Johnson) and entire team were led to the interview room for a formal press conference, with the section banner prominently displayed on the table.
The Vikings strolled back to their locker room after the conference, celebrating the whole way, thinking more about what they had just accomplished than the spoils that came with the win.
Yes, they left the banner behind in the interview room, and section spokeman Will DeBoard had the honor of chasing behind the Vanden team and presenting it for a second time.
... And counting – With their victory Saturday night, Modesto Christian’s girls have now won a title in four different divisions – II, III, IV and V. Next season, if the section adopts the “champion stays” rule, where any conference champ would have to compete in the postseason division to which its league belongs, the Crusaders would have no choice but to compete for D-I title since it plays in the D-I MMC.
“I don’t know too many teams that have done that,” said MC coach Robb Spencer.
Coach, look no further than your school’s boys team, which completed the trick by adding a D-II title Saturday to go with banners in D-I, III, IV and V.