The Kings have introduced a new way to pack more fans into Golden 1 Center than they did during their first sold-out season last year in the downtown arena.
The basketball team is selling “standing room only” season passes at $15 a game to fans who want the arena experience but are willing to forgo the thing you typically get with a ticket – a seat.
According to the team’s website, standing-room-only season-pass holders will be given seats during during two games this season but otherwise must stand, even if there are unoccupied seats. They’ll have the option of paying for an “upgrade” via a cellphone app if a seat becomes available.
The reason the plan can work is that the Golden 1 Center was designed to allow those standing on the main concourse to watch the game. There are no walls between the concourse, where many of the food and drink concessions are located, and the lower seating section. That means patrons on the concourse can continue watching the action on the court below.
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The arena also has several spots with tall bar tables and “drink rails” overlooking the court, although one of those areas, the Sierra Nevada Draught House, was often jammed last season with standees who had seats but preferred the bar.
The standing experience is not entirely new in Sacramento or elsewhere. The Kings sold some standing-room-only tickets to premier games last year. Kings officials said, however, that the team may be the first in the NBA to offer standing-room-only season passes.
The Kings also will increase arena seating capacity by 40 this season by turning the lower of the two bridges near the front doors into 10 premium-priced “balcony boxes.” Officials declined to say what they are asking for the boxes. That bridge area, beneath the draught house bridge, was largely unused last year.
The changes are part of an aggressive push by the Kings to get more value from the arena and generate new interest in the team during its second season downtown.
On Saturday, potential ticket buyers toured Golden 1 Center, sipped wine and talked ticket prices during one of several periodic invitation-only open houses.
When told about the standing-room-only season ticket offer, potential ticket buyer Armando Torres of Galt said he might consider it. But his wife, Angelina, wrinkled her nose.
“A whole season? The kids wouldn’t like it,” she said, nodding to their daughters, ages 11 and 15. It might be OK, she said, “if you just want to be a part of the atmosphere, maybe as an occasional drop-in option.”
The new ticket type could increase math homework for some buyers.
The standing-room-only season ticket at $15 a game will cost $645, including two preseason games. By comparison, the least-expensive, 10-game package currently available for seats at the top of the upper deck will cost $280, or $28 per game.
Single-game tickets won’t go on sale until September.
Team officials have declined to offer details about ticket sales this year, but said they expect to sell out again.
“Building on the success of our inaugural season, we’ve opened new products that complement the great options available … for fans to join in the game-night experience,” team president of business operations John Rinehart said in a text to The Bee. “We’re confident that our limited remaining options will be gone soon.”
The Kings’ first regular-season home game is Oct. 18 against the Houston Rockets.
The team suffered another losing season last year, and some fans have said they won’t renew their season tickets this year. Kings’ officials said they have a waiting list of eager season-ticket buyers.
Potential new buyers at Saturday’s event included J.D. and Laura Franco of Natomas.
They’ve had Giants season tickets for several years, but the team is playing so poorly that it prompted the Francos to start running the numbers on $91 seats at the upper end of the lower bowl at Golden 1 Center.
They can only afford one team, however, the Giants or Kings.
“It’s a difficult decision,” Laura Franco said.