The Sacramento Kings’ arena is rising fast in Downtown Plaza. Last week, the Republic FC unveiled soccer stadium plans in the railyard, a mile north. Meanwhile, the River Cats play ball a mere mile west.
The thought of three teams with home fields in close proximity sent us scrambling through the sports schedules last to week to confirm what we suspected: It’s possible at some point that all three could play home games in town on the same day. If that unlikely triple-play scenario does happen, it will provide an interesting test of the depth of the region’s love for sports. It also could provide a test of the resiliency of the downtown freeway and street grid system.
The Cats’ Raley Field holds 14,000. Golden 1 Center will hold 17,500. The soccer stadium could seat 25,000. Are there enough sports fans around to fill all three venues in one day? Will some super fans go for the trifecta and attend all three? Will downtown be a cool Mardi Gras-style party scene, or a congested mess for agoraphobics to avoid (or both)?
I asked a friend for a quick, off-the-cuff reaction. He texted back: Carmageddon.
But will it be? If the events start an hour apart or more, traffic may look like an extended version of a weekday morning work commute, when nearly 100,000 people find their way to jobs downtown. There will be congestion, delays and confusion. You may want to bring the attitude you do for a San Francisco Giants game in that city’s downtown: Head there early and pack some patience.
It’s much more likely that just two teams would play in town on the same day, but a Republic spokesman said that such overlaps would be infrequent. Representatives of the city, the Kings, Republic FC and the downtown railyard ownership say they will cooperate to avoid hassles. That includes adjusting each team’s event traffic management plans, as needed.
But getting there is just half the battle. Will parking be a game of musical chairs?
The city of Sacramento and Republic FC announced an agreement last week that the soccer team will provide 6,500 new parking spaces near its stadium. The team is talking with the railyard ownership group about partnering to build joint-use garages near the stadium that could be used at different times by future railyard businesses, residents and soccer fans.
That amount of new parking should handle about 17,500 fans (figuring three or fewer fans per car). What about the remaining 7,500 or so fans? They could end up competing with Kings fans for spots elsewhere in downtown.
This is where light rail should play an important role. Republic team officials say they did a survey showing that 40 percent of their fans would prefer to come via light rail, bike, foot, Uber or something other than their own car.
Sacramento Regional Transit has acknowledged it must step up its game to serve both the Kings and Republic. RT officials say they already have started working on the details of building a new light-rail station adjacent to the soccer stadium site on Seventh Street.
The likely earliest date that stadium will be built is 2018. RT will need that station up and running.