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Andy Furillo: Golden 1 Center? If you pay to park, you own the joint

The arena’s colonnaded walls angle in and out rhythmically, giving a feeling of movement. It may suggest trees in a Delta breeze. The base of the building has not yet been built. When done though, it will be obscured by what the Kings call a “living wall” of climbing plants, literally rooting the building in the earth.
The arena’s colonnaded walls angle in and out rhythmically, giving a feeling of movement. It may suggest trees in a Delta breeze. The base of the building has not yet been built. When done though, it will be obscured by what the Kings call a “living wall” of climbing plants, literally rooting the building in the earth. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Janis Hawkins dug around in her car for quarters to feed the meter Wednesday, and Sean Eichelkraut waited for an app to download on his cellphone so he could pay to park. Two different people from two different worlds, the Oakland woman and the Sacramento man shared one thing in common – their stake in the Kings.

Like it or not, if you pay to park a car in the city of Sacramento, you have a stake, too. We’re all on the hook through our parking spots for about a fourth of the $272.9 million the city laid out as its obligation to build the $507 million Golden 1 Center. As unwitting investors, it’s important that we make sure our partners in charge of basketball get things figured out by the time they move into our arena next year.

Over the 35-year life of the bonds, our bill will have come to $147 million, or enough to pay the 2050 salary of a backup point guard. Hopefully, he, or she, will be able to defend the three-ball.

Most of us hoped the Kings would have the basketball end of things figured out by the time we give them the keys to our arena. It appears that won’t happen. They still go through a coach a year, sometimes more. They nearly fired another last week. Our players too often lack energy and inspiration. Right now, it’s odds-on that our tenants will move into Golden 1 riding a streak of 10 consecutive losing seasons.

It used to be we could just blame the Maloofs. Now, the Kings are our responsibility, and it’s up to us to demand accountability, to make sure we are heard.

“Oh yeah, anybody who lives in Sacramento should have a voice, everyone who’s got to come downtown for personal affairs and things,” said Eichelkraut, 36, a state computer programmer and Sacramento resident, as well as a Kings season-ticket holder. “The arena is owned by the city.”

Hawkins, 54, lives in Oakland and roots for the Golden State Warriors, but she made her investment in the Kings’ future when she drove over from the East Bay to check up on someone in court.

“It’s expensive,” she said, while putting money into the meter across I Street from City Hall. “I mean I’ve been here since 9 o’clock this morning, and I’ve spent $3. And I’m going to be here another two hours.”

It used to be we could just blame the Maloofs. Now, the Kings are our responsibility, and it’s up to us to demand accountability, to make sure we are heard.

Talk about whales – the term Mayor Kevin Johnson used when he was looking to gaff big-moneyed investors to save the Kings from Seattle. It turns out we are the big fish. And we’re gaining weight, and leverage, now that the city has jacked up the meters to $1.75-an-hour.

Our influence will only increase when the “dynamic” parking price model kicks in, at rates that will get your attention even if you’re in for multiple dinner courses at the Grange and can pay for them on your cellphone.

The Sacramento City Council voted us into our landlord’s position, which was cool. That’s the way a republican democracy works. Now it’s up to us to lean on them to ensure our voices are heard to turn the Kings into winners in our building. A municipal Department of Kings Affairs appears to be in order, as well as a subcommittee on basketball oversight.

In the good old days of $1.25-an-hour street parking, we didn’t mind it so much when the Kings burned through coaches or missed on their draft picks. It was really none of our business that they passed on three-fifths of the current Warriors’ starting lineup – Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – or that they could have chosen alternatives such as DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard and/or Andre Drummond.

Our influence will only increase when the ‘dynamic’ parking pricing model kicks in, at rates that will get your attention even if you’re in for multiple dinner courses at the Grange and can pay them on your cell phone.

Maybe our collective intelligence would have come up with better personnel decisions. But the time for wistful thinking is over. Now we’ve got some say-so, whether we’re headed to the courthouse like Janis Hawkins or to the Department of Water Resources to look over somebody’s personnel file like Sean Eichelkraut, or even if we’re just stopping for a quick caffeine fix at Temple or settling in for a couple of pints at LowBrau.

As stakeholders in the arena, we’ve got more than the draft to worry about. We’re looking at a trade deadline Thursday at noon. We need to figure out the expanded salary cap and see who we can get and who we can get rid of. We need to stick with our future Hall of Fame coach, George Karl, and make sure everybody who plays for him knows he’s in charge. We need to drop the curtain on the three-ringed atmosphere that twice this year has had the rest of the basketball world laughing at us.

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In 2015’s days of yore, we were free to read the paper and the websites and join for some yuks. That luxury is gone, now that we run the joint. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs or Aliquippa, Pa., if you pay to park in the city of Sacramento – on the street, in municipal garages or lots that are contracted out – you are obliged to fix this mess, even as the Kings come out of the All-Star break and head into the final 30 games of the season.

It is time for us to exercise our authority. Or take the bus.

Andy Furillo: 916-321-1141, @andyfurillo

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