Time-lapse images of Golden 1 Center construction

Watch a time-lapse video documenting construction of the Golden 1 Center, the future home of the Sacramento Kings. Now updated to Oct. 29, 2015.
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Watch a time-lapse video documenting construction of the Golden 1 Center, the future home of the Sacramento Kings. Now updated to Oct. 29, 2015.
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Foon Rhee

Associate editor, editorial writer and Viewpoints editor

Foon Rhee

Why aren’t Sacramento taxpayers getting more out of the arena deal?

By Foon Rhee

frhee@sacbee.com

October 16, 2017 12:03 PM

It’s like leaving money unspent on a gift card, or not using all your paid vacation days. It’s even worse, actually, because Sacramento taxpayers sank so much money into the Golden 1 Center – and it makes no sense at all.

The City Council put in $255 million of the arena’s $557 million construction cost. Under the 35-year lease with the Kings, the city gets to hold nine days of civic events a year, free of charge.

But so far in 2017, the city has used only three event days – for the Sacramento State commencement in May. And that only happened after my colleagues and I on the editorial board suggested it when the university was scrounging to pay higher rental fees at Golden 1 compared to Sleep Train Arena.

So far in 2017, the city has used only three event days – for the Sacramento State commencement in May.

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At this point, there are no other events scheduled this year. The days can’t be carried over into next year, so it’s use it or lose it.

One obvious possibility I’ve suggested before – the Sacramento police academy graduation. The next one is scheduled for Dec. 21 at Memorial Auditorium, as usual.

That setting would be fine. But especially now – when the new officers are needed so badly and there’s a new police chief – why not make the event a bigger deal? With time, I’m sure the Kings’ promotional folks can help the city come up with some snazzy ideas while still keeping it a mostly serious occasion.

I’ve also suggested using Golden 1 as a venue for a citywide arts festival. And surely, there must be some kind of event to celebrate and recognize the city’s young people.

In addition, the city gets to hold 24 minor events a year. So far this year, it has held only one – an appreciation for 50 employees who worked on the arena project.

Part of the problem is that more than a year after Golden 1 opened its doors, the city still doesn’t have an official policy for civic events. It’s finally putting the final touches on one; groups would apply to the city manager’s office and, with approval, would work directly with the Kings on scheduling.

Clearly, City Hall hasn’t paid enough attention to this issue.

It has focused more on its arena luxury suite, which has been heavily used by various community groups and nonprofits. For instance, volunteers and staff of the River City Food Bank were in the suite to see the Imagine Dragons concert on Oct. 4 – 20 tickets with a face value of $4,000. City Year went to the Kings preseason game against San Antonio on Oct. 2, using $2,000 in tickets. And the Sacramento Veterans Resource Center used the suite for WWE Live! on Sept. 22, worth $3,000.

The suite is obviously a more popular perk. But being able to hold civic events in a state-of-the-art, award-winning arena isn’t a trifle.

It was a long, costly and controversial slog to get Golden 1 Center built. The least that City Hall can do – on behalf of residents and taxpayers – is to get everything it’s entitled to out of the arena deal.