Mike Tavares unveiled his Crown Downtown idea Tuesday night at Sacramento City Hall, with 83 members of the community who joined him in its debut. I had a chance to catch up with Mike to find out more about the man behind the grassroots effort supporting a Downtown Entertainment and Sports Complex.
It all began, nearly one year ago, on December 8, 2011, following a Think Big meeting, when Mike wanted to make an impact at a City Council meeting. He met with Justin Marshall, someone who shares the same commitment and support for Sacramento, to hatch his ideas. Then on December 13, 2011 twenty people showed up at City Hall donned in Sacramento Kings jerseys to support him in the cause.
Mike’s idea was to turn people into a “human power point presentation,” as he recalls. Each person would remove his jersey to reveal a bullet point written on the front of a white tee shirt. One read “concerts,” another “events” and so on. It was here that Mike founded #FANS, which stood for Fund Arena Now Sacramento. It was printed on the back of each white tee shirt to show a unity of purpose.
“It was good theater,” he recalls, replete with plants in the audience, at a ready to remove the Kings’ jersey to reveal the tee shirt underneath with the next bullet point. He chose the color white, because the color represents life or rebirth. He wistfully recalls it at his favorite moment at City Hall. Collectively, the group made an impact by their presence and calm, determined demeanor.
On February 14, 2012, Valentine’s Day, 80 people showed up. They sacrificed their valentine plans to support the cause. Not an easy thing to do for anyone trying to explain to a girlfriend or wife, that he has a higher cause than to take her out for a romantic dinner.
Mike Tavares the Person:
One clue of what kind of person Mike is comes from his twitter account @Sactown Mike 0476:
Die-hard Sacramento Kings fan since day one (27 years) and a full-season ticket holder. Community College Professor & Counselor. Trained by the USAF. #FANS
A Sacramento Kings full-season ticket holder, you can spot him at home games, wearing his signature military hat. At a recent game, he was wearing the Number 22 jersey of Isaiah Thomas. As you recall, it was Thomas who attended one of the City Council meetings at the Mayor’s request.
Mike describes himself as organized, detailed, and conforming to rules. He has always chosen to take the “high road” with his group including their presentation in a public forum. Attributing his military background and surrounding himself with smart people in how he presents himself. Preparation involved researching archived issues of the Sacramento Bee to formulate questions.
Mike recalls the words spoken by Mayor Kevin Johnson, following the collapse of the arena deal, in the shadow of defeat, “Don’t give up.”
Mike took the Mayor’s words to heart, modifying his goals and vision. As he said, “you have to reinvent yourself” in order to find ways to support the City. Fast-forward to today and Mike has unveiled the results of his inner reflection in Crown Downtown, which he thinks will renew hope for many. The Capitol serving as the symbol for Sacramento. Mike likes symbolism.
Crown Downtown Mission:
- Support to the City of Sacramento. He would like everyone to come together as one voice to support the development of downtown Sacramento.
- Promote Sacramento as the Best City in the World.
How Does Mike View the Current Situation of the Sacramento Kings?
Mike was presented with five what-if scenarios and asked to give his thoughts to each:
- What if the NBA or other entities convince or influence the Maloof family to sell the team?
Citing the Maloof family’s previous statements they have no intention on selling the team, he felt there were too many variables to predict whether the family would eventually decide to sell the team. If they did, he would hope the owners would sell to someone who would invest in keeping the team in Sacramento,
- What if the Maloofs find themselves strapped for money to make payroll, turn to the NBA to bail them out? Could the NBA take over the team?
If the franchise was unable to make payroll, then Mike could see the possibility the NBA could step in to take over the team. He felt there was a greater likelihood of this happening, than the Maloofs deciding to sell.
- What if the Maloofs continue to court other cities, such as Virginia Beach to build an arena for them and try to convince them to give them enough money to payoff all their current debts?
As to the Maloofs courting other cities, Mike says they have “every right to talk to other cities.” Although, he did add he believes it is unlikely for a city to pay for all things the Maloofs want.
- What if the Maloofs find themselves backed into a corner, with no place to go? What do you see happening in terms of Sleep Train Arena?
As to whether Maloofs decide to remain in Sacramento, Mike recalled something George Maloof said to the effect of remaining in Sacramento for awhile. If the Maloofs retrofit Sleep Train Arena with private financing, that is their option. If they are looking for public money to retrofit the arena, then Mike would rather see the focus go toward revitalizing downtown Sacramento.
Long term, he views this as two economic engines, which need to be fed. There is Natomas, which would need some replacement of jobs lost and there is downtown Sacramento which would benefit from revitalization.
- What if the Maloofs decide to sell the team to the highest bidder? Do you see any way for the City of Sacramento or a Sacramento based investment group or partnership coming together to buy the team?
Mike points out that while the Maloofs are in charge as owners of the team, if they were to sell, then the NBA could play some role in the the outcome. Insofar as an investment group, he could see Ron Burkle getting involved if it comes to this.
How does Mike view Mayor Kevin Johnson now and going forward?
Kevin Johnson is my hero.
Politically-wise, he really put himself out there. He stepped up like no other… He showed commitment and love for Sacramento…KJ came through…He is our 4-Star General, great leader, Best Mayor.
What would you like to communicate to readers regarding your group?
- Check out the website CrownDowntown.org
- Go to Twitter @Crowndowntown
- Check them out at Facebook
- Check them out at YouTube
We need to unite the community… politicians, media, former players. We need to come together as one voice.
How can people get involved with your group?
People can interact on Twitter and Facebook and attend upcoming events whether they follow on Facebook or not.
When asked, Mike shared he and a few others have borne most of the costs for items out of their own pockets. This includes all the tee shirts, the cost of getting them printed, cameras, voice recorders, and filing fees. Looking forward with the plans he has in mind, there will be additional expenses.
He has continued to remain a season ticket holder, as he feels it is important to continue to support the team, players, and staff. His message to others:
If you support the Kings, you are supporting Sacramento.
Mike Tavares is a man filled with hope of a revitalized downtown Sacramento and wants to support the City of Sacramento to keep that vision alive. Although he deeply loves the Sacramento Kings, he reminds, “This is bigger than basketball.”