Jack Ohman

The Kings, a new arena, and the cool things about Sacramento...

As it is becoming increasingly clear that the Kings will stay in Sacramento and get a new downtown arena, this community will now have to find something else to obsess about. I've lived in quite a few different major cities and states, and I can tell you it's never enough. You build a stadium and 20 years later, someone is bleating for another one. It never ends. Since I lived in Minnesota, they've built two new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins , who were playing in what I considered to be a perfectly reasonable stadium that everyone now waxes elegaically about: Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. In fact, I own a wooden seat from that very stadium, and all my Minnesota friends weep all over the precious relic of a bygone era.

In 1980, they ripped up Metropolitan Stadium and put up the Mall of America, which is all very well and good. People make fun of it, since it's the largest mall in the world (I think). It has an indoor amusement park, and stores like Optic Orange Clothes Only, Walleye Hut, and Antlerville USA. OK, it doesn't have those stores, but it does have an indoor amusement park, which is really nice when they turn off the oxygen in Minnesota in November. 

In place of the Met, the Money Boys who wanted a new stadium then put up the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, an indoor domed stadium that has a swastika secretly embedded in the ceiling (seriously, and you would think a liberal state like Minnesota would have noticed that in the original plans). The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is made of cement, which makes you feel like you're watching baseball in a mausoleum, further contributing to the perception that baseball may be dying. 

So the Twins played in the Metrodome for 20 years or so, and then the Money Boys then started agitating for another new stadium. They finally opened it in 2010: Target Field. Target Field is perhaps the most distracting venue I've ever been to: flashing screens, weird lights, loud music, and, oh, I think they play baseball down there somewhere. But I've been so distracted by the crazy stadium that the baseball seems ancillary.

It seems pretty clear that several terribly wealthy individuals, God bless them, are going to get the Kings to stay in Sacramento, and that's fine. We will build it, they will come for awhile, and after 15 years, I can guarantee you that they'll want another one. 

In Portland, where I spent a lot of my life, the owner of the Trail Blazers just built his own arena out of his own pocket. It's nice and has all the requisite bells and whistles, like corporate sky boxes. They put it up next to the old Blazers arena (Memorial Coliseum), where the games seemed just as fun to me.

Don't get me wrong. I think Arco or Sleep Train or whatever we're calling it, is pretty grim, and I also think that a lot of people get a lot of pleasure from following the Kings. That's cool.

But I am looking forward to a bit of rest after having non-stop What Will The Kings/Maloofs/Stern/The Whales Do? The thing is, having the Kings leave would be bad, but I am not convinced that keeping the Kings will essentially change the character of Sacramento. What builds a city's charm is small things, not big things. In Portland, it's little drinking fountains some local philanthropist installed around the turn of the century, it's the rose gardens all over town, bike paths, and food carts. Not the Rose Garden arena where the Blazers play. In fact, the area around the Rose Garden is kind of generic and not people-friendly. Lots of cement, lots of big buildings.

As I've lived in Sacramento for a few months now, I still think the best thing about downtown Sacramento are all the different beautiful trees and plants. The downtown is slow-paced and pleasant, almost comfortingly retro with old neon and beautiful old homes. It's not cool because of a big building or a complex. If someone was really interested in helping Sacramento's downtown, they'd turn all of that stunning riverfront into parks and gardens, not massive illuminated cement things. Then people would really want to be there.

The Money Boys should buy some more trees. I am aware money doesn't grow on them.

But they're way cheaper, and they last longer than 20 years.