One of the central sticking points in the ongoing saga surrounding the Sacramento Kings' prospective relocation, eventual sale and ultimate staying-put over the years has been whether or not Kings ownership and the city of Sacramento could agree to and execute a plan to build a new arena for the franchise to inhabit in the future. After more than half a decade of false starts, scuttled plans and regrouping, the team's new ownership group and the Sacramento City Council took their first steps toward funding the new project this past summer, acquiring the land on which the Kings' new home will rest and lining up the folks to both design and build it.
The team has shared some design schematics in recent months, but hadn't unveiled the full artist's rendering of the planned $448 million, 650,000-square-foot 17,000-seat structure until an early Tuesday missive to Kings season ticket-holders. Here's what they saw in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning:
You'll note that, in the mock-up above, we're looking into the heart of the planned "downtown Entertainment and Sports Center," or ESC, from out in front of the arena. That's because the exterior of the ESC's "grand entrance" will come equipped with huge airplane-hangar-style glass windows that "can fold upward to create a five-story opening, allowing people in the arena plaza and even motorists on nearby J Street to see directly into the facility," according to Tony Bizjak, Dale Kesler and Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee:
“You wouldn’t build that building in Brooklyn and you wouldn’t build that building in Miami,” said lead architect Rob Rothblatt of AECOM, the global architecture firm hired to design the sports facility. “You would build it here.”
Here's more from the Kings on the ESC:
In addition to a dramatic Grand Entrance, measuring 50 x 150 feet, multiple balconies, and Farm-To-Fork programming throughout the facility, the skin of the arena itself will also reflect the very fabric of Northern California. The arena will be constructed using materials that range from glass to recycled aluminum to precast concrete, composed of sand from San Benito and rocks of Sierra limestone. [...]
The Kings are on schedule to break ground in the Summer of 2014 and to open the venue in October of 2016.
“We set our sights on a design that’s never been done before,” said Jon Niemuth, AECOM director of sports for the Americas. “Each design element shows that this arena is built for Sacramento. We’re aiming for a facility that celebrates the city, strengthens the downtown community, supports the team’s success and offers an unmatched fan experience.”
Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé and team president Chris Granger also took fans through the arena plans in a brief accompanying video presentation:
There are plenty of neat design elements here — the indoor-outdoor balconies intended to take advantage of Sacramento's climate are a nice touch, for one — but the eye-grabbing focal point is the "grand entrance" and those movable windows, as highlighted by Tim Newcomb of SI.com:
Those standing outside close to the entrance can actually see down to the arena floor and those farther away can watch the video board and gain a feeling of what is going on inside. If the Kings want, they can even keep the windows open during concerts.
“Now imagine we open the doors and we have 10,000 people on the viewing plaza in an amphitheater setup,” [Kings president] Granger said.
The grand entrance has some visual intrigue from the inside, too. The “river view terrace” sits directly above the entry, allowing upper-bowl patrons a view of the downtown and river in one direction and the in-arena action in the other.
“It is certainly a unique amenity for an upper bowl,” Granger said.
The unveiling of the new renderings comes as a group opposed to the arena project — and the $258 million public subsidy integral to funding its development and completion — continues to work toward putting the quarter-billion-dollar subsidy up for a citywide vote that could threaten the successful completion of the project if it went against the Kings.
The group, called Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, or STOP, had collected enough signatures to get the measure on the June ballot, but Sacramento City Clerk Shirley Concolino last Friday rejected the petition used to gather the signatures on the grounds that its wording "was legally flawed." STOP is expected to file a civil lawsuit to overturn the clerk's decision, get the petition OK'd, get the signatures approved and get the measure on the June ballot. Such a suit is not expected to go STOP's way.
The legal wranglings could delay matters, but for now, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the Kings and the NBA all expect the project to continue apace, and for the ESC (or whatever it will be called down the line) to be ready to welcome the Kings in October 2016. Here are more renderings from the Kings and AECOM:
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