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  • Mark Morris /

    Architect Rob Rothblatt describes a rendering of the proposed arena’s facade.

  • Sacramento Kings/AECOM

    The proposed design for the Kings’ downtown arena includes five glass aircraft hangar doors that can fold upward to create a 40-foot opening to an outdoor plaza on the north side of the building.

Editorial: Design of proposed new arena showcases Sacramento

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 - 12:15 am
Last Modified: Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2014 - 7:16 pm

The new owners of the Kings set a very high bar for the planned downtown arena – nothing less than the most technologically advanced venue in the country that is also a significant piece of architecture that shows off what’s unique and special about Sacramento.

At first glance, the design they will unveil today to season ticket holders, city officials and business leaders delivers on their promise.

The arena has a façade of white and silver panels meant to evoke the Sierra and Ansel Adams photographs. A digital image of oak leaves will be imprinted on metal and glass, a nod to Sacramento as the city of trees.

At the main entrance, the arena’s north-facing, hangar-sized doors open on to an outdoor public plaza, linking inside and outside and creating a community gathering spot. A west-facing balcony terrace will offer views of Old Sacramento and the river at sunset. Almond trees will shade a seating area where eventgoers can order farm-to-table food. It’s possible that light tubes on the roof will turn purple when the Kings score.

In a preview Monday for Bee editors and reporters, Kings President Chris Granger and lead architect Rob Rothblatt said there’s no other sports venue quite like what they are calling “arena 3.0”

It is a “light, refreshing, crisp” building that reflects California, Rothblatt said. The broad design themes were reinforced by Sacramento-area residents – 20,000 people who gave their ideas and feedback at forums and online, Granger told The Bee’s editorial board. The public will continue to get its say as the design goes before the city’s Planning and Design Commission and the City Council.

The Kings and their architects are just starting on the look and feel of the arena’s interior, including the seats, suites and smaller lofts, but Granger and Rothblatt promise the same sorts of innovations. For instance, they plan to put the concession stands on the outside of the concourse, preserving views of the arena floor from the concourse and creating enough standing-room spots to increase the capacity from 17,000 or so to as many as 19,000.

Even with these bells and whistles, Granger said the arena will stay within its $448 million budget and be built as scheduled by September 2016.

He also offered reassurances that it won’t take too long for the development near the arena – what will largely determine whether the public investment of at least $258 million pays off.

The Kings and their partners plan 1.5 million square feet of shops, restaurants, residences and a hotel surrounding the arena. Granger says while the Kings can’t officially commit that the development will be done in two or three years, it is not in the team’s financial interest to have the land sitting vacant.

“We have every economic incentive to do this as quickly as we can,” he told the editorial board.

The proposal may be a leap of faith. If the Kings keep their promises – as they appear to have done on the arena design so far – that faith will be justified.

Read more articles by the Editorial Board

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