Basketball fans are gearing up for one of the wildest two weeks of NBA build-up ever. A new collective bargaining agreement on such a late date means not only a shortened training camp and condensed free agency period, but the NBA is also cramming a 66-game schedule into a little over four months.
While GMs are taking calls and coaches are busy dusting off playbooks, the Kings ticket office is going nuts trying to send out season tickets and prepping for a season that is a little over two weeks away.
For the first time in eight seasons, the Sacramento Kings will open their schedule at home. Not only do they get the Lakers on opening night, but they play four of their first five at Power Balance Pavilion and the players coming through are top notch. After Kobe Bryant leaves town, last season’s MVP, Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls drop by for a visit. A few days later, the Kings play back-to-back against Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire’s New York Knicks, followed by what now appears to be a Chris Paul-led New Orleans Hornets team.
Kings VP of Ticket Sales and Service Phil Horn couldn’t be more excited about the opening week of the NBA season.
“From a fans standpoint, I don’t think we could have asked for a better start to the season.” Horn said. ”We have a legitimate opportunity to sell-out four straight games.
“And with everything that happened this summer, and looking towards the new arena and all of these things going on,” he continued. “I can’t think of a better way to start the season than four straight sell-outs to show that Sacramento is back and that it’s a big-league city that deserves a big league arena and we’re here to stay.”
The Kings have big plans for that first week of the season, including a ticket package that lands fans a seat and t-shirts to all four games. The Kings also will unveil their new black jerseys on opening night against the Lakers and pass out black t-shirts to all 17,000-plus in attendance.
Although Lakers fans will find their way into the building, they’ll have a difficult time doing so for this first game. The Kings are allowing their season ticket holders early access to nine extra seats to any game this season, including opening night. When tickets do go on sale, there should only be a limited number left, and those will require purchasing a second game.
Horn says the phones have been ringing off the hook since the lockout settlement was reached nearly two weeks ago. But Kings fans had already responded well to the news that the team would be staying at least one more season in Sacramento. Before the lockout, season-ticket sales had already surpassed the previous season and that was before the Kings even had an opportunity to introduce first-round pick and marketing dream, Jimmer Fredette.
After a busy first week, the Kings play a grueling schedule in January, which includes 12 of 17 games on the road. While some might see the break as a negative, it gives the business side a bit of time to catch their breath and roll out new promotions.
The Kings will continue to be aggressive in their marketing strategy and hope that fans will respond by showing up in force. Opening night is being billed as a “blackout” by the team, but count on it being much more. Fan groups are already mobilizing for what they’re calling “Here We Stayed” night at Power Balance Pavilion. Emotions will be running high for an amazing fan base that has fought valiantly to keep their Kings.