Arena chat, part III

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.

19 thoughts on “Arena chat, part III”

  1. Why the Maloofs won’t make this exact type of information public is just beyond me. These guys are consumate salesmen, but when it comes to telling the city WHY we need a new arena, they completely clam up. I just don’t get it.


  2. RG: My bathroom is looking a little down. Can you recommend a company to demolish my house and find me a tax base willing to fund my mortgage on the new place?


  3. DMZ,
    When your brother comes to visit from Long Beach, if he brought an entourage with him and generated a few hunderd thousand in ticket sales, we could find you some backers.


  4. except that a dam is something that saves us from flooding, and Arco would be wholely owned by the Maloofs and after your 25 cents per $100 you’d still be out $7 for a hot dog.

    i’m not surprised nobody has thought of renovating… it’s not exactly in the public conscious. maybe someday somebody will produce a TV show about renovating. Or 40. Or 3-4 entire networks.

    Seriously, knock out a portion of the parking lot, charge an extra $3 per car, and build the largest most decadent locker room known to man, which none of us will ever see or benefit from (unless you count the indirect benefit from a freshly scrubbed and relaxed Ron Artest).


  5. DMZ: Kindly refer to my final sentence of, “I admit that I don’t have all the answers, but after today’s tour, I know this needs to happen.”

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way. However, I could easily see this becoming this millenium’s Auburn Dam, an argument that continues for decades after the initial proposal, yet makes no progress as the costs escalate each day. (Please don’t take this as an indication that I want to open up the Auburn Dam issue, I was merely using it as an example of extensive public disagreement.)


  6. You actually brought up a point that I was unaware of. Will the Maloofs actually be the full owners of the arena? Because that doesn’t make sense. If tp $’s go into the project, then the arena shouldbe owned partially be the tax payers….shouldn’t it?


  7. Perhaps the Maloofs aren’t doing the best job selling the idea to Sacramento because they don’t want Sacramento to buy it.


  8. I’ve had a backstage tour of Madison Square Garden. I can’t imagine Arco is worse than that.

    Sorry, no sale with me. I can think of a dozen regional quality of life issues I’d rather have my tax dollars spent on.


  9. Good point, because in comparing New York and Sacramento, most people can’t come up with any discenrable difference. When the Bolshoi ballet wants to come through the US, I’m sure they say “Sacramento, New York, New York, Sacramento. Tough choice, Yuri. Where should we go? Oh, they both have shitty locker rooms? Well, let’s go to Sacramento then, it’s on our way to the concert at the Sav-Mart center in Fresno.”


  10. It amazes that people in this cowtown don’t understand the value of “place.” One of the few items that separates Sacramento from, say, Modesto or any other number of central valley eye-sores, is the Kings. In fact, the only thing in Sacramento that says “city” rather than “town” is the Kings. One day this town will grow up and understand.


  11. The appalling conditions of the VIP areas is what might actually make this thing happen: “sloppy sponge painting on the walls, mismatched track lighting, fake ficus trees, and cheap leather sofas…”

    If I had a nickel for every time I had to buy a new house because of a worn out leather sofa, I’d be able to buy real ficus trees and matched track lighting.


  12. I’d suggest being the state capital makes Sacramento a little different from Modesto, but if you think it’s the Kings, well, that’s your call.

    I wonder how many “unique visitors” — as they say in Web parlance — go to Kings games every year. Not total attendance, but how many actual people have a in-person Kings experience at least once a year. Now … how large a percentage of the regional population is that? Even adding in “unique visitors” in a TV audience … what’s the percentage?

    What I’m suggesting is that interest in the Kings is out of proportion because of overblown media coverage. No one in my fairly large social circle ever talks about the team, or cares. (Yes, I know that’s anecdotal. Just saying.)

    Now, I’m not at all opposed to tax dollars being used to generate business revenues in the greater community or improve quality of life for the region’s population. I just don’t see building a new arena so the Maloofs can get richer scores on either front.

    Of course, the argument is not unique to Sacramento. There have been several academic studies on the subject of publicly funded arenas, and at least one book, “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit.” (Interesting Web log from those authors at

    I guess in the end I just find it interesting how many fiscal conservatives who say “no” to almost everything from parks to preschool can’t open the public accounts quickly enough to billionaire businessmen with sports franchises.


  13. the job loss argument does give one pause. however, don’t pin that on us taxpayers: if the team leaves (which, by the way, we have no assurances could happen either way, give or take a few years) it would be because the Maloofs are taking their ball and going home.

    however, the “other 324 days” argument makes me wonder how the high-end development They are planning to accompany the downtown arena will succeed. “Let’s meet up at Spataro II before the Nickelback concert!”


  14. Stop focusing so much on the Kings and remember that many other events happen at the arena, and these people spend money on concessions, souvenirs, parking, and tickets. Without an arena, there are no events, which means no money being pumped into that enterprise, which means a loss of jobs for hundreds of people.

    A lot of you are reading only about the crappy decor but aren’t considering the job losses that could result from this not happening. Not having a major entertainment venue would also bump us down from a 2nd tier city to a 3rd or 4th tier city in the eyes of some of the major acts who come through here currently but wouldn’t if there’s nowhere for them to perform. Now I know many of you don’t attend any of these mainstream events, but thousands upon thousands of other people do.


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