For years, people said that the best thing about Sacramento was that it wasn’t too far from really cool places like San Francisco. That’s no longer the case. Sacramento has come into its own and emerged as one of the Golden State’s not-to-miss destinations, especially for sporting events.
Sacramento’s future looked bleak. Struggling to rebound from the Great Recession, the city’s downtown was blighted with empty and run-down retail centers and office buildings. Moreover, the owner of the Sacramento Kings, the Maloof family, was threatening to move the NBA team to another city.
“That would have ripped the heart and soul out of the city,” said Matina Kolokotronis, the Kings’ chief operating officer.
But Vivek Ranadivé, a high-profile Sacramento businessman, put together a new ownership group, and in 2013 it purchased a 65 percent controlling interest in the team at a total franchise valuation of more than $534 million.
Not only did Ranadive, the team’s majority owner, help keep the Kings in their hometown, he also developed a new downtown arena, the Golden 1 Center, which opened in September 2016.
“Vivek wanted to create something iconic that would enrich the city and the fan experience,” said Kolokotronis.
Golden 1’s Touch
Since then, Sacramento has undergone a dramatic transformation, with a thriving new entertainment and cultural center, 16-story hotel, burgeoning art and culinary scene, and a reinvestment in its charming historical corridor.
In addition to NBA games, the $558 million Golden 1 Center hosts a variety of events and top musical acts, including Paul McCartney, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Guns N’Roses. In its first year, the arena hosted over 350 events—including 42 concerts—which attracted 1.6 million visitors to the downtown area, according to the Kings.
Designed by Los Angeles-based architectural firm AECOM, the venue includes undulating walls adorned with leaf designs and a metallic “skin” made of vertical panels of limestone, glass and aluminum that change colors as they reflect the natural light.
Inside, the arena feels open and airy, with large hallways and massive windows that let in natural light. The main entrance has five-story airport hangar doors that create an indoor/outdoor space for fans to gather.
Moreover, Golden 1 Center is the world’s first arena to be certified LEED Platinum by the U. S. Green Building Council. The arena is powered 100 percent by solar energy and uses a displacement ventilation system that provides cool air through vents at the seat level, instead of circulating forced air from the top of the arena.
It also has plenty of high-tech bells and whistles, including a 4K high-definition video board, with a four-screen Panasonic display. In addition, there’s one Wi-Fi access point for every 17 guests, and a 200-gigabit-per-second internet connection.
Kolokotronis stresses the arena also showcases Sacramento’s reputation as the country’s Farm-to-Fork capital. “At least 90 percent of the food comes from within a 150-mile radius,” she says. Some of Sacramento’s top local restaurants are represented at the arena, with offerings including handmade tacos, wood-fired pizza, and grass-fed burgers, all made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.