Business leaders praise new Terminal B at Sacramento airport

Published: Friday, Sep. 16, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

Sacramento business leaders got a sneak preview of the new Sacramento International Airport terminal Thursday night, causing more than a few to declare themselves transported.

"You forget you're in Sacramento," said Doug Sanders, a SureWest sales manager. "It's kind of a surprise. It's world class."

"It makes you feel like you're in a bigger city," said Jeanne Forbes, a travel agent with the TravelStore.

Sanders and Forbes were among several hundred people attending the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization annual party, held this year in the as-yet unopened terminal.

It amounted to a coming-out party for the facility, part of a $1 billion expansion program, replacing the antiquated Terminal B complex.

The terminal will be the new home for Southwest, Jet Blue, American, Hawaiian and several other airlines. Terminal A will remain in operation, serving some of the old Terminal B's airlines.

The expansion project includes a jet concourse building in the north airfield and an automated people mover system that will ferry fliers on an elevated guideway between the terminal and concourse.

The functionality of the facilities will be put to the test Oct. 6, opening day. But the building won plaudits Thursday night for its looks.

SACTO President Barbara Hayes said she's delighted to be able to welcome potential businesses to Sacramento without having to cringe and hurry people through faded old Terminal B.

"I feel a sense of pride," she said. "It's like nothing this region has ever seen in terms of public spaces."

The building looks large from the outside, but feels comfortable, said Alex Gonzalez, president of California State University, Sacramento. "I fly Southwest (Airlines), so I'll get to use it a lot."

The project is being funded by a combination of existing flier surcharges, airline fees, parking revenue, federal grants, and fees on rental cars and concessions.

The county airport system will hold a free open house Sunday, Oct. 2, a few days before opening.

For reservations, go to www.eventbrite.com, click on the arrow next to the "search for events in Sacramento" box, then click on "Preview B – Community Preview Day."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Tony Bizjak



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