By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Sutter Health Park is now part of the Sacramento Kings family. The NBA team announced last week that it bought the Triple-A River Cats, an affiliate of the MLB San Francisco Giants. Officials said the minor league baseball team’s day-to-day operations will be folded into Kings’ organization immediately. 

The Sacramento Kings will have control of prime real estate just across the Sacramento River in West Sacramento after inking a deal with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats baseball club last month. 

The Kings, River Cats, and Arctos Sports Partners announced a new partnership that establishes the NBA team as the majority owner of the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team, bringing the River Cats’ business operations under its umbrella. Sources within the Kings organization told The OBSERVER that the financial acquisition hovers around $90-plus million.

The business move gives the Kings access to Sutter Health Park where the River Cats have played for 22 years. The transaction comes at a time when commercial and residential developments are increasing around the multi-use facility.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Susan Savage and her family, who made the River Cats into a tremendous community asset with a great brand and tradition,” stated Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé. “We look forward to building on their inspiring legacy and continuing to provide families with memorable experiences.”

Located across the Tower Bridge, Sutter Health Park (SHP) is within walking distance from Old Sacramento. And the 15,000-seat stadium is more than just a baseball park. SHP hosts concerts, religious gatherings, trade shows, festivals and team-building events. 

The downtown Sacramento skyline views, modern amenities, and a top-rated event management team are always part of the picture. With the Kings’ involvement, an expansion of these extravagances is on the horizon.

The River Cats will remain the Triple-A affiliate for the three-time World Series Champion San Francisco Giants and Susan Savage, longtime owner of the River Cats, will continue to serve as a strategic business adviser and member of the ownership group.

“My sons, Jeff and Brent, helped me continue what my late husband Art started back in 2000; providing fun, safe and family-friendly entertainment for everyone in the Sacramento region,” Savage said. “As our family looks to transition into new ventures, we identified the Sacramento Kings as the perfect strategic partner to continue this tradition while deepening the organization’s footprint in a region we all love.” 

With nearly 60 years of combined history in Sacramento, the Kings and River Cats have long prioritized giving back to the region. The partnership allows for deeper impact and investments. 

Through community programs and initiatives such as Jr. Kings, Kings and Queens Rise Co-Ed Youth Sports and Mentoring League and basketball court refurbishments, the Kings dedicate time, resources, talent and passion to give the community the support it needs to thrive. 

In recognition of their leadership in social responsibility and work to address social injustice, the Kings were awarded the NBA Inclusion Innovation award in 2019 and 2020.

Similarly, the River Cats have impacted the community through the AAA School Program, Home Run Tours, hosting camps at River Cats Independence Field for children with disabilities, baseball and softball field makeovers, the Art of Baseball Calendar and Sutter Health hospital visits. 

In addition, the River Cats Foundation was established in 2000 and focuses on financially supporting family and youth-based activities in the greater Sacramento area.

“In Sacramento, sports are part of our identity and a common cause that brings us all together. The Kings, the River Cats, and all of their fans embody the passion, energy, and civic pride of our great region,” Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) said in a written statement. “This announcement builds upon this tight-knit community fabric, drawing together two Sacramento icons and economic anchors of our region.”

The River Cats franchise was purchased by Art Savage in October 1998 and was relocated to Sacramento prior to the 2000 season from Vancouver, Canada. Since moving to Sacramento, the River Cats have won five Pacific Coast League titles and are the only club to win three Triple-A Championships. 

After years of being a part of Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s, the River Cats switched gears in 2021 by signing a long-term partnership extension with the Giants that keeps the River Cats as San Francisco’s top minor league affiliate through the 2030 season.

Sutter Health Park was built in 2000 as Raley’s Park and has become the cornerstone for West Sacramento’s Bridge District development. It brings in hundreds of thousands of people to the area for ball games, Brewfest at the Ballpark, Fourth on the Field, concerts, various sporting events, walks, graduations and more.

“It has always been about the community and our employees and that will not change,” Savage said.

The Kings have a community-first approach to real estate and business development. The organization has been instrumental in the revitalization of Downtown Sacramento, making the home of the Kings, Golden 1 Center, and the surrounding Downtown Commons (DOCO), a thriving business and entertainment center that brings hundreds of thousands of people to Sacramento’s urban core each year.

Golden 1 Center is a top-performing arena globally – ranking No. 6 worldwide and in the U.S. for ticket sales according to Pollstar. In 2021, Golden 1 Center sold more than 207,000 tickets for major concerts and shows, hosting 11 of the top 100 worldwide tours.

Arctos Sports Partners is a private investment firm that invests in and collaborates with innovative and visionary ownership groups, sports businesses, and leagues across North American professional sports and European soccer. Arctos’ partners are able to leverage the deep industry knowledge and operational expertise of the firm’s 30 investment and operational professionals and senior advisors, including Theo Epstein, to help drive additional value for their organization.

“We are proud of our partnership with the Kings and believe strongly in Vivek’s innovative vision of building a world-class sports and entertainment platform, coupled with his deep commitment to the Sacramento community,” said Arctos Sports Partners’ Chad Hutchinson. “This is a unique opportunity to bring together two iconic organizations in one of the most dynamic markets in the country.”