Two years after breaking ground – and after almost 20 years of discussion, abandoned proposals and a near-departure of the intended tenant – the new arena for the Sacramento Kings will open its doors to the public this week for the first time. After Saturday’s public tour, Golden 1 Center hosts its first major event, a Paul McCartney concert, on Oct. 4. While the downtown location of the $557 million facility could be the most dramatic difference from the Kings’ former home at Sleep Train Arena, Golden 1 also reflects 25 years of evolution in arena design. Viewing a professional game has changed forever in Sacramento.
A bigger palace
The Kings’ new home is a much larger building than Sleep Train. The additional concourses mean more spaces for food vendors, restrooms and other amenities. The number of seats doesn’t increase much, but a larger lower bowl with a steeper pitch puts fans closer to the action.
Lofts vs. suites
Golden 1 adds a seating type that didn’t exist at Sleep Train: the loft, an 8-person mini-suite. One level up, more traditional suites can seat 17 to 25 people each. The lofts and suite levels are accessed via private concourses which have exclusive bars. All 82 are leased long-term.
Kings chairman Vivek Ranadive, who made his fortune in Silicon Valley, has made technology a key focus in the new arena. It has “smart turnstiles,” a security system with facial recognition, and more than 600 video displays. The Wi-Fi network has 1,000 access points and runs at a speed the team claims is 17,000 times faster than the average home network. And the team’s smartphone app is designed to let fans navigate the building. Fans can use it to watch live action and replays from various angles, order food and merchandise from their seats, or find the shortest restroom lines.
The grand entry is accentuated by the arena’s most striking feature: five hangar-style doors that can roll up and remain open during some events.
Billed as the world’s largest indoor scoreboard, it extends nearly baseline to baseline. It is nearly 7 times larger than the scoreboard at Sleep Train.
Most of the undulating exterior panels are made from aluminum and etched with 3-inch modernist leaf designs. When the panels bump out, diamond-shaped windows provide city views. The panels near the northeast and southwest entries are glass, bringing light to those spaces that is similar to the light the hangar doors bring into the grand entry.