Editorials

City holds key to an obvious fix for CSUS graduation

Graduates celebrate during Sacramento State’s commencement in December at Sleep Train Arena, the last scheduled event before it closed. The university is facing higher costs to use new Golden 1 Center.
Graduates celebrate during Sacramento State’s commencement in December at Sleep Train Arena, the last scheduled event before it closed. The university is facing higher costs to use new Golden 1 Center. rbenton@sacbee.com

Sacramento State University is seeking ways to pay for the higher costs of holding its May commencement at Golden 1 Center.

Under its lease with the Kings, the city of Sacramento gets free use of the new downtown arena for nine civic events a year.

Making the graduation one of them is a no-brainer. If the city, the team and university can’t make this ready-made solution work, there’s something wrong.

After an inquiry from The Bee’s editorial board, city officials huddled Wednesday and said that while they haven’t been contacted yet by Sacramento State, they would consider the graduation as one of the civic events.

In a statement to the editorial board, Sac State said: “University officials have been, and remain open to, exploring all options. We greatly appreciate that the city might consider such a designation on behalf of Sac State.”

As The Bee’s Diana Lambert reports, Sac State spent $59,842 to use now-shuttered Sleep Train Arena in Natomas for its graduation ceremonies last spring. To rent state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center, the university is being billed a base fee of $50,000, plus an estimated $141,000 for traffic management, camera operators, lighting technicians and other charges.

The university budgeted only $96,500. Even after raising the fee charged to about 5,300 graduating students by $13, it still needs to find about $94,000.

If the city designates the graduation as a civic event, the $50,000 rental fee would be waived, which would be a big help.

One potential complication is that the city still hasn’t finished an official policy on civic events, even though Golden 1 Center opened last October. The city focused on getting in place the other perk in the lease – use of a luxury suite.

The events policy is to be done in the next three weeks, but the city doesn’t need to wait to approve this one so university officials can plan ahead.

The higher costs at Golden 1 Center have Sac State looking at other venues for future commencements. After resolving the immediate problem, the city ought to commit that Sac State’s graduation will be one of its civic events each year.

For Sacramento, it’s hard to think of a more important event to have at the city’s new showplace.

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