As someone who was privy to a behind-the-scenes tour of ARCO Arena today, I can say with 100% certainty that we need a new venue this moment, and I will lobby hard for this cause. Until today, I thought the arena was just fine, and I’ve been there for a wide variety of events many times over the years.
Here are some hard facts and recent observations:
– There are about 200 events at ARCO each year. Of these events, only 41 are Kings games and 19 are Monarchs games — more of each if we make the playoffs. The balance of these events consist of music concerts of all ilks, ice skating shows, college graduations, religious revivals, motivational speakers, business events, and other entertainment such as tractor pulls and comedians like Larry the Cable Guy. You don’t need to be a fan of professional sports to take in an event at ARCO or to recognize the economic impact such events have on our region. Each of these events brings with it crews to set up and often large entourages accompanying the performers. These are people who get paid, need to eat, and need a place to sleep = money pumped into our local economy. Plus, think of all the jobs that these events keep alive at ARCO throughout the year, such as parking attendants, ticket-takers, concession sales, security, etc.
– The facilities at ARCO are embarrassingly small, antiquated, and downright crappy.. The Monarchs’ dressing room pales in comparison to the Foresthill Middle School locker room where I showered & changed after some trail runs a couple months ago. It is tiny, and each player gets just a small cubby (no, that’s not slang for anything.) The visitors’ dressing room is even more paltry — sure, we don’t want the competition to have too many creature comforts, but a folding chair, a hook on the wall, and a small shelf for each player & only three showers for them to share? The thought that such greats as Michael Jordan, Sir Charles, Larry Bird (aka “Basketball Jesus” according to my husband), John Stockton, Meadowlark Lemon (he played there as a Globetrotter, give the man his props) et al were subjected to such a tiny barren room is horrifying. No wonder players are so reluctant to come play here when they are first drafted or traded — they shouldn’t expect soul food out in Los Lagos, but a nice place to hang their hat would be welcome.
– The VIP areas? Pul-lease. They look like some 6th grader’s interior design merit badge for Girl Scouts, complete with sloppy sponge painting on the walls, mismatched track lighting, fake ficus trees, and cheap leather sofas — all they need are some Nagel prints. If I were a true VIP (and not just in the eyes of my mother, husband, and cat), I would promptly fire my agent for his/her decision to book me at the Kountry Kitchen Arena. The vinyl flooring is peeling up in some areas, and there are holes in the flooring elsewhere. I’ve seen Pimp My Ride many times, so I know what’s possible with a car — how much harder would it be with a physical structure?
– Our tour guide told us that the kitchen facilities are a third the size of other NBA arenas’ facilities, as are the locker rooms, storage, VIP areas, and other essential areas.
– Are you a hockey fan and are wondering why we don’t have any games here? ARCO’s technology is so outdated that it takes a full 48 hours for the ice to set. Conversely, at almost all other arenas, it takes just eight hours. If a hockey game is scheduled, nothing else can go on for two days prior while the ice is setting, and that would mean a significant loss in revenue.
So here’s the bottom line:
1. We need a new arena, or the old one will go bye-bye. The Maloofs own it, so why would they keep it when they could raze it and sell the land to developers? Without the arena, there goes your Disney on Ice, Il Divo, Nine Inch Nails, monster truck jam, wrestling (who cares about that, it’s fake anyway), and Billy Graham.
2. It needs to be funded, and yes, we in Sacramento County may need to dig into our pockets and pay one quarter of one cent on every dollar we spend. Even though the arena would benefit the entire region, we don’t have time to have the legislature approve a special taxation district/authority (think about it: would voters in El Dorado or Placer counties up in Lake Tahoe really approve this measure? What if it passed in one county but not another?), so the burden is on the City and County of Sacramento.
I admit that I don’t have all the answers, but after today’s tour, I know this needs to happen.