Arena

Groundbreaking on new Sacramento Kings arena set for Wednesday

The demolition of the Downtown Plaza is nearly complete on Wednesday. The Sacramento Kings will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new arena project next Wednesday morning, a few hours before the team tips off its season at its current space Sleep Train Arena.
The demolition of the Downtown Plaza is nearly complete on Wednesday. The Sacramento Kings will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new arena project next Wednesday morning, a few hours before the team tips off its season at its current space Sleep Train Arena. rbenton@sacbee.com

The demolition is nearly over at Downtown Plaza. Now it’s time for the groundbreaking.

The Sacramento Kings said Friday they will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of their new arena next Wednesday morning. The event, featuring Kings Chairman Vivek Ranadive and Mayor Kevin Johnson, will take place a few hours before the team tips off its NBA regular season opener at Sleep Train Arena.

Because the construction zone remains active, the public isn’t invited. However, the event, which will begin at 11:30 a.m., will be webcast at www.sacramentoesc.com/live.

It will be the second event to mark the beginning of work on the Downtown Plaza arena. The Kings held a pre-dawn ceremony Aug. 1 to kick off the demolition of the eastern half of the mall, site of the $477 million arena. Wednesday’s event represents the conclusion of nearly three months of demolition and the beginning of work on the arena itself.

The Kings said the project should begin “going vertical,” with steel rising from the ground, sometime in the first three months of 2015. The arena is due to open in October 2016.

The groundbreaking brings together central figures in the arena project. Johnson championed the fight to keep the Kings from leaving Sacramento and to persuade the City Council to approve a $255 million public subsidy for the new arena. Ranadive, a Palo Alto software executive, led the group that purchased the team last year from the Maloof family, which was prepared to sell the Kings to investors from Seattle.

Also participating in the groundbreaking will be other elected officials, Kings owners and a group of Sacramento young people chosen to represent a cross-section of the community.

For the team’s home opener vs. Golden State that evening, the Kings will commemorate the start of their 30th season in Sacramento by honoring the original ownership group that relocated the franchise from Kansas City. Also on hand will be former King Reggie Theus, who scored the first basket in the Kings’ Sacramento debut, a 108-104 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 25, 1985, at the original Arco Arena I. Fans will be given “Sacramento Proud” T-shirts, emblematic of the team’s new slogan.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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