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Big crowd greets Santa Cruz Warriors

Posted: Monday, Dec 24th, 2012

Marshall Nielsen, 11, brings plenty of enthusiasm to opening night in Santa Cruz. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula)

SANTA CRUZ — Thousands of people poured into downtown Santa Cruz Sunday afternoon for the opening night of Kaiser Permanente Arena, where the Santa Cruz Warriors squared off against the Bakersfield Jam.

The doors opened at 3:30 p.m. for the D-League (“development league”) game, and an hour later the arena’s 2,500 seats were mostly filled as players from both teams warmed up on the court. It was a sellout, rowdy crowd for the Warriors home opener.

Andrea Miller and her son Luke, 7, came early to watch the action.

“We thought this would be a good opportunity for us to meet people and get to know the community,” she said. “We really hope Santa brings us season tickets.”

Miller said she moved to Santa Cruz six weeks ago from Huntington Beach, a significantly larger city where traffic issues and distance from the arena make attending a sports event an all-day affair, a sentiment echoed by many Santa Cruz basketball fans who feel that driving to Oakland for a Golden State Warriors game is a time-consuming proposition.

Coming to the Santa Cruz event, she said, was far easier.

“This is the right fit for us,” she said.

Ken Henton and his wife Janet, who came to the game in Santa Cruz Warriors T-shirts, said they purchased their season tickets before the Santa Cruz City Council approved plans for the arena.

Already season ticket holders for the San Francisco Giants, Ken Henton said he was excited about rooting for a local team.

“I think it’s a great addition to downtown,” he said.

Janet Henton agreed, and added that the arena will likely be a boost to the city’s economy.

“People come early and go to dinner,” she said. “I think it’s going to be good.”

Bryon Windsor, of Scotts Valley, said his lifelong love of basketball compelled him to purchase season tickets.

“I think this is fantastic,” he said. “This is going to bring in a lot of business.”

For the complete article see the 12-24-2012 issue.

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