Sacramento police secure Golden 1 Center for Kings-Pacers game
If you're heading to the Sacramento Kings game Thursday night, you'd better get there early.
Access to the arena will be limited, as officials already have ringed the Golden 1 Center with 6-foot-tall cyclone fencing and steel barricades in anticipation of protests over the shooting of Stephon Clark disrupting a third game.
Metal detectors were being wheeled out on the plaza at 10 a.m. Thursday. Directly across from the arena, a worker at the popular barbecue restaurant Sauced was busily removing metal chairs from the patio, which normally is jammed on game nights.
Fencing lined most of the L Street side of the arena Thursday morning, with a flatbed truck carrying stacks of more fences to finish the job.
Sacramento police and Kings officials have been working to find a way to get ticket holders in safely for the 7 p.m. tipoff with the Indiana Pacers.
Since March 18, when Sacramento police shot Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old Sacramento resident who was carrying a cellphone when he was killed, angry protesters have twice shut down access to the arena, forcing Kings officials to lock the doors with only a few thousand fans in attendance.
The first disturbance came last Thursday. It was followed by another Tuesday night from marchers who spilled out of a special City Council meeting and blocked entry to the arena.
Officials have remained mum on the precise security measures being taken, but Thursday the fencing on the Seventh Street entrance to the plaza appeared designed to funnel ticket holders into a tight area where metal detectors will be placed.
The L Street fencing appears to be designed as an extra perimeter to check tickets before fans make their way to the metal detectors closer to the arena doors facing Macy's.
The fencing also was erected in front of the plaza entry to the Sawyer Hotel, although the plaza entrance at Fifth and J streets remained unblocked as of Thursday morning.
Protests have snarled traffic throughout downtown for several days, including last Thursday, when protesters made it onto Interstate 5 and blocked lanes in both directions.
Clark's funeral took place Thursday morning and was to be followed by a 3 p.m. protest at the Sacramento County District Attorney's office, where marchers have demanded that DA Anne Marie Schubert charge the two officers involved in the shooting.
Thursday's protest will be the third day marchers have targeted Schubert's office at Ninth and G streets. A march Wednesday ended up stopping traffic on various downtown streets during rush hour, and authorities are concerned about a larger headache with game traffic heading into the downtown area.
The plaza was open Thursday morning. Kings officials did not respond to a request for information on when they would restrict access, but issued a statement about the new security measures.
"Prior to tonight’s game, the plaza will be closed to non-ticketed guests to ensure that fans and guests can enter the building safely," the team said. "The security measures in place for the game include ticket checks on the perimeter of the plaza, additional Sacramento Police officers and security personnel, new barricades and crowd control measures designed to create safe passage for ticketed guests into the arena. To expedite entry, guests are encouraged to arrive early and have their ticket ready to show staff."