Sacramento Kings officials and city leaders expressed disappointment Thursday after learning Sacramento had failed in its bid to host the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, but they still hope to bring basketball’s biggest extravaganza to the capital city in the future.
The NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers held a joint news conference Thursday to announce that All-Star festivities in 2022 will be held at Quicken Loans Arena for the first time since 1997. Sacramento could still be considered for 2023 under the two-year bid it submitted to the league in February, but the city has not yet met the NBA’s hotel room requirements, sources said.
Sacramento proposed an “unprecedented global celebration of basketball,” featuring a seamless, technology-enhanced experience at the state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center, the $557-million downtown arena that opened in 2016. The proposal sought to address the hotel shortage by docking cruise ships at the Port of Sacramento and partnering with Airbnb to reserve up to 1,000 homes and apartments, but it wasn’t enough, Kings president of business operations John Rinehart said.
“Our inaugural bid to host an All-Star Game showcased that our city can compete to host world-class events and is truly a community on the rise,” Rinehart said in a written statement. “While the NBA recognizes that the city and the fans would provide a unique and exciting experience, combined with our efforts to introduce innovative partnerships with Airbnb and luxury cruise ships, the city does not yet have the inventory of hotel rooms that meet the NBA specifications to host this event. While it is a disappointing result, we are excited about the future and a bright path ahead of Kings basketball.”
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Sacramento’s bid included plans for an outdoor amphitheater on Capitol Mall, a waterfront festival along the Port of Sacramento and autonomous vehicles shuttling visitors from Sacramento International Airport to Golden 1 Center. The city’s pitch to the NBA consisted of virtual reality tours of event spaces and testimonials from team officials, former Kings’ legends and civic leaders.
“I think the only thing that held us back was our hotel inventory,” said Mike Testa, president and chief executive officer of Visit Sacramento. “Everything else in the market met the requirements.”
The NBA requires host cities to provide 6,000 hotel rooms in the area around the arena, many of which must be four-star quality. There are 16,000 rooms in the Sacramento region, but only about 3,000 in the downtown area, according to Visit Sacramento.
“The NBA wants everybody in walking distance and we just weren’t quite there yet this year,” Testa said. “We’re disappointed, certainly, because when you look at the evolution of the market and the construction of the Golden 1 Center and so many other developments downtown, we thought this city was positioned to host the game, but there will be other All-Star games in other years.”
The Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz have also reportedly submitted bids to host the All-Star Game in 2022 or 2023. The Bucks opened a new $524 arena this season. The Warriors are expected to open a new arena in San Francisco in 2019. The Jazz plays at Vivint Smart Home Arena, which underwent a $125-million renovation in 2017.
Testa said there will be hundreds of additional hotel rooms in the downtown area by 2023, including 170 at the Hyatt Centric hotel, 100 at the California Fruit Building, 111 at the Clarion Hotel and up to 350 as part of the Sacramento Convention Center expansion.
“In the next five years, our hotel inventory will absolutely grow, but the question is whether it will grow enough to make the NBA comfortable,” Testa said. “This city is viewed differently, especially in the NBA, because of the Golden 1 Center, and this was our first foray into hosting an All-Star Game in that building. I say the first because there will be more in the future, and I think we will get to the point that an All-Star Game in Sacramento will be a no-brainer for the NBA.”
Rinehart is confident that day will come.
“This city is built on basketball and as the ripple effects of Golden 1 Center continue to spur downtown’s growth and evolution — with a renovated convention center, more world-class hotel accommodations to come and a bustling downtown core — we will once again make our case for Sacramento to welcome basketball fans from around the globe to celebrate the NBA’s marquee weekend,” Rinehart said. “We look forward to working with the NBA on a future bid and other spectacular events that highlight what our incredible community has to offer.”
Rinehart thanked a number of people and organizations for their efforts, including Testa, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui and Greater Sacramento Economic Council CEO Barry Broome.
Steinberg remains hopeful the NBA will bring its All-Star festivities to Sacramento. He alluded to the recent play of the new-look Kings, who carried a four-game winning streak and an exciting, up-tempo style of play into Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.
“We’ve ony just begun to compete for this and much more,” Steinberg said. “It’s just one year. Go Kings. Keep playing the way we are playing and we will soon host both an All-Star Game and many playoff rounds in the same year.”
Matsui issued a statement expressing both disappointment and optimism.
“The Sacramento Kings and the City of Sacramento have shown that our region is a world-class community for our residents and an enticing destination for visitors,” Matsui said. “While I am disappointed to hear that Sacramento will not be hosting the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at the state-of-the-art Golden 1 arena, Sacramento will continue to build on this exciting momentum and our partnership with the Sacramento Kings.
“Sacramento is rapidly becoming a known destination for art, entertainment and sports. Sacramento is not afraid to chase our unique, innovative ideas and to make them a reality.”