City Beat

DoCo? SoBro? Kings new branding of Downtown Commons met with praise, mockery

The Kings want to call the entertainment district around their new arena Downtown Commons – or DoCo for short.
The Kings want to call the entertainment district around their new arena Downtown Commons – or DoCo for short. Sacramento Kings

New York has SoHo. San Francisco has SoMa. Denver has LoDo.

And now we have DoCo.

Can SoSoBro be far behind?

DoCo – short for Downtown Commons – is the label the Kings’ marketing folks placed on the entertainment district the team is building around their $507 million downtown arena. DoCo will replace the area’s former label, Downtown Plaza, a name synonymous with the image of an empty, dilapidated urban core.

Like many things, DoCo was the subject of both praise and mockery on social media after the name was revealed Wednesday. Lots of people seemed to love the colorful graphic and “swag” the Kings produced when they launched the marketing campaign. Others – mostly those who aren’t big fans of the city’s $255 million subsidy of the arena – said it was forced and seemed borrowed from other cities.

The Kings have a lot planned for DoCo. They’ve got three major restaurant and entertainment tenants already lined up. Foundation work has started on a 16-story hotel and condo tower. A 3-acre public plaza will probably host outdoor concerts, farmers markets and movie nights. The team estimates they’ll spend $300 million to build the district.

This column won’t pass judgment on the name. And only time will tell whether we’ll tell our friends we’re heading down to DoCo to shoot some darts at Punch Bowl Social, one of the major tenants, or whether the name goes the way of The Kay, a failed attempt at rebranding K Street.

William Burg, a historian who’s written a lot about the city’s neighborhoods, said Sacramento has a track record of trying – and failing – to rename areas. He said residents of the mansions in midtown’s Poverty Ridge tried to rename their neighborhood Sutter’s Terrace more than a century ago. Their hilly enclave had been a refuge for poor residents fleeing floods in the city, but the mansion-dwellers didn’t like that image. Too bad. It’s still Poverty Ridge today.

What does Burg think of DoCo? “I don’t think anyone’s going to miss the name Downtown Plaza,” he said. “But the name is less important than the substance (of the neighborhood).”

Regardless, DoCo got me thinking: Maybe it’s time we update the names of some of the city’s neighborhoods, using the DoCo abbreviation model.

For instance, Land Park would now be SoBro (South of Broadway). Of course, that means South Land Park is SoSoBro.

Little Pocket is LiPo. The Pocket is just plain old Po.

Actually, the Pocket should be SoFlo, or South of Florin Road. That would make Greenhaven NoFlo. Sorry, Greenhaven.

North Natomas, naturally, would be NoNa, which kind of sounds like a nickname for your grandmother. SoNa is South Natomas. To make things easier, we should probably just rename all two dozen or so neighborhoods north of the American River NoRi.

The Fab 40s is fine, but let’s go with FabFo. You know those blocks below Folsom Boulevard in East Sac? How about SoTraJo (South of Trader Joe’s)?

And since this all begins and ends with DoCo, does that mean Southside Park is actually SoDoCo, or South of DoCo? Is Alkali Flat in NoDoCo? Is “The Kay” EaDoCo?

Hey, that last one might stick.

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