Sacramento Kings unveil final arena drawings

01/28/2014 12:15 AM

10/01/2014 1:24 PM

The Sacramento Kings unveiled final drawings of their planned $448 million downtown arena Monday, depicting a see-through building they say captures what is quintessentially Sacramento, without looking quite like anything else that has been built here.

Following their vow to create an indoor-outdoor building that does justice to Sacramento’s warm climate, team architects gave the arena a half-block-long front entry dominated by five glass aircraft hangar doors that can fold upward to create a five-story opening, allowing people in the arena plaza and even motorists on nearby J Street to see directly into the facility.

The structure’s facade is a distinctive silvery-white series of vertical panels made out of patterned glass, perforated, see-through aluminum, and Sierra limestone.

The adjacent public plaza is envisioned as a microcosm of the region’s agriculture and outdoor lifestyle, with tomatoes growing in hydroponic gardens, an outdoor grandstand or grassy amphitheater facing the arena’s open face, and a sunken area, called a “bosque,” lined with almond trees. The arena’s facade patterns – or fritting – will depict leaves and trees.

“We’re trying to blur the lines between arena and public space,” Kings President Chris Granger said Monday, showing the drawings to The Sacramento Bee.

Mark Friedman, a Sacramento developer and part owner of the Kings, said the building’s see-through design is a combination of classic and modern, “something that doesn’t look like anything else. The building is alive and it breathes.”

“When you look around Sacramento, we don’t really have a great architectural tradition,” he said. “I think this shows a new architectural direction forward for the community.”

“You wouldn’t build that building in Brooklyn and you wouldn’t build that building in Miami,” said lead architect Rob Rothblatt of AECOM, the global architecture firm hired to design the sports facility. “You would build it here.”

Kings officials said the new renderings, which were distributed to the City Council on Monday and were to be emailed to Kings ticket holders at midnight, represent the end product of months of work. Sacramento Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said the drawings will be presented to the city Planning and Design Commission.

“This is what you’re going to see (opening day) in October of 2016,” Granger said.

Arena project construction manager Tim Romani of ICON Venue Group will display the designs publicly today at the Downtown Sacramento Partnership “State of the Downtown” breakfast. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson also will speak.

Romani said the team plans to begin demolition of much of Downtown Plaza in June. Construction on the arena would start in fall. The city and team have not yet gained control of the empty former Macy’s men’s store building, a critical parcel for arena development. But city officials say they are petitioning the court to allow construction crews to take control of the site pending a final decision on a sales price for the Macy’s parcel. Macy’s continues to operate its main store at the west end of the plaza.

The team and the city face a potential legal obstacle, however.

A group opposed to the city’s planned $258 million arena subsidy says it may file a lawsuit this week to continue its efforts to force a public vote in June on the financing plan. That group submitted enough signatures on a petition to qualify for the June ballot, but City Clerk Shirley Concolino threw the petitions out last week, saying they contained legal errors.

With a potential ballot fight looming over the project, union officials and building contractors held a press conference Monday to call attention to the thousands of construction jobs it would create. But John Cooper of the Associated General Contractors, which represents union and nonunion builders, said he’d withdraw his support if nonunion contractors aren’t allowed to bid on the ancillary development surrounding the arena. The Kings have already pledged to use union contractors on the arena itself. Asked about that, team president Granger said “it’s way too early for us to speculate” on whether the ancillary development will use strictly union labor.

Kings officials said they still have several months of work to do on the arena’s interior design. That includes consulting with sound engineers on acoustics and with ticket holders on how to best configure and furnish the arena’s planned 28 luxury suites. Granger said the team also intends to build 50 smaller suites, called “lofts,” that would be more intimate, like a living room, and targeted to smaller companies as potential buyers.

The facility is expected to contain between 17,000 and 17,300 seats, slightly fewer than Sleep Train Arena. The bowl will be designed with substantial standing-room areas, and could be outfitted with temporary bleachers, to bring the total capacity to 19,000 if needed, Granger said. The concession stands would be on the outer rim of the concourse, with the entire concourse open to the event bowl, allowing more standing room viewing space.

Kings officials said they believe they have designed a high-quality facility – they call it Arena 3.0 – that anticipates fan desires for comfort, ease of use and technological innovations. Despite those elements, and the building’s complex facade, Granger and Romani said the project price has not gone up and is not expected to.

“The $448 million is actually a quite reasonable budget,” Romani said.

The building would contain 650,000 square feet of space, covering nearly two blocks of what is now the largely vacant east end of Downtown Plaza. It would rise 90 feet above the plaza level, and burrow 30 feet below ground. The plaza to the north and west would cover an area roughly the size of Cesar Chavez Plaza, or one full city block. Notably, the building’s back-end, which includes loading docks, would be hidden underground. Trucks would access it off L Street. Team officials said the design for the L Street access ramps is not completed.

Among the notable details revealed by the Kings on Monday is a long outdoor balcony called “Riverview Terrace,” high above the front door, overlooking the plaza and the Sacramento River to the west.

The plaza itself would be as much a focal point as the building, officials said, serving as a gathering spot when events are not happening inside. Officials have not yet determined what kind of development, apart from the arena, would line the plaza’s northern side. The Kings owners have said they and their development partners intend to build a hotel, housing and offices on the Downtown Plaza site.

Team president Granger wouldn’t commit to a timetable for that ancillary development, but emphasized that it’s in the team’s interest to get it going as soon as possible. “Having land on our property sit idly by is not in our best interest.” He says he’s getting calls every day from people pitching restaurants and other projects. “It’s mind-blowing,” he said.

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