‘When they win, we win’: Downtown businesses beam at Kings success

SACRAMENTO — When the Sacramento Kings win, so do downtown Sacramento businesses. Leisure numbers in Sacramento more than doubled from 2019 to 2022, a sign of the team’s success and the number of events coming through the Golden1 Center.

On Friday, the first weekend of back-to-back games, fans gathered at the Downtown Commons ahead of the Kings’ matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Before going to G1C, they dined at Sauced BBQ & Spirits, Polanco Cantina or had drinks at Fizz.

The “Light the Beam” energy is turning into a business, according to a manager at Fizz, who said fans inspired the bartender to create “The Beam,” an alcoholic drink that changes color to match the purple light that falls in the sky when the Kings win. Customers can order the drink, dark purple in color when it arrives, and watch as the lemon juice turns the butterfly pea tea used in the drink a lighter purple. Topped with champagne, the drink is $2 off when the Kings win.

Fans filled the bars and outdoor tables on Friday to try this new launch this week.

“When the Kings win, we win,” said Cathleen Galster, manager at Fizz.

She said the business they’ve seen has been steadily increasing since the Kings’ season began. In the evening, when there is an event or a concert, she said that it is also busy.

The numbers match the experience shared by Fizz. According to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership’s director of economic development, downtown leisure spending more than doubled from December 2019 to December 2022. That’s a 209% increase in leisure spending that is fueling a downtown business boom.

Before the pandemic, pedestrian traffic and busy days in the city center were related to work, from Monday to Friday, but now weekends are the busiest for DOCO and its surroundings. The change, connected to several events, but also to the success of the Kings.

“We’re seeing that carry over, certainly on the business level, we’re seeing some restaurants on K Street with beam-themed drinks … it’s really exciting,” said Scott Ford, director of economic development.

The energy around downtown Sacramento is what the Downtown Sacramento Partnership hopes will spur future development. With recent success on the field, companies and developers are looking to tap into the success of Sacramento businesses off the field, according to Ford. He said proposals are coming in for new developments that can be traced back to the rise in leisure spending.

“You can hear the light, the rays singing, and it makes us that much more proud to be from Sacramento,” Ford said.

Right now, Sacramento is the only NBA city ineligible to host All-Star Weekend, Ford said, because it doesn’t meet the criteria for the number of hotel rooms in a certain vicinity. This, Ford said, is ultimately the next goal the city intends to achieve, to continue the excitement for the NBA and the Kings at the “All-Star” level.

Chants rang out on Friday night after The Kings defeated the OKC Thunder. It’s clear that the energy of “Light the Beam” is here to stay.

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