Let’s have a look at those new Sacramento Kings arena design concepts

Developers present ‘hypothetical' concepts for new Sacramento Kings home as city leaders weigh impact on downtown

Sacramento Kings president Chris Granger said the new arena will not look like these detail scenes from concepts unveiled last week. Or it might? Either way, they’re just “hypothetical,” he said.

Sacramento Kings president Chris Granger said the new arena will not look like these detail scenes from concepts unveiled last week. Or it might? Either way, they’re just “hypothetical,” he said.

Read SN&R's blog Page Burner for more Sacramento Kings arena updates at www.newsreview.com/pageburner.

Signature gatherers and opponents still aim to put the Kings arena’s public subsidy to a vote next June. Meanwhile, the city and the Sacramento Kings hustle to move the project forward.

This week in new arena news: Sacramentans got a first look at design possibilities for the team’s proposed downtown HQ.

“These are just hypothetical,” Kings president Chris Granger cautioned city council members and the audience at last Tuesday night’s meeting before unveiling design concepts.

“We are not submitting any of these as sort of the final answer. … But we do like to show these because it elicits a reaction … that gives us feedback.”

Granger and Co. have been toting these not-actual-rendering designs at town halls and meetings during the past few weeks as part of an outreach plan. It’s like a Rorschach test, but for the Kings arena. Their goal is to fine-tune the design scheme and finalize a proposal by next year.

Mark Friedman, who leads the arena-development team—along with design firm AECOM, Turner Construction and ICON Venue Group—introduced Granger and used prhases such as “architecturally significant,” “environmentally responsible,” “absolutely fantastic place,” “great civic space” and “showcase what’s terrific about Sacramento” to describe the arena’s design goals. (There was no discussion of what, specifically, makes us terrific, just to say.)

City staff had also prepared a list of arena goals, based on community outreach done during early October. Council approved these objectives with a 7-1 vote; it included the usual—making it a “world-class destination”—plus some oft-overlooked ideas, such as making it a place for artists and bicyclists.

Two wheels were actually a topic of note during the meeting. Jim Brown, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, said the arena needs to be “fully accessible by all modes of transportation” and urged the council to rethink the one-way streets that surround the arena, because they encourage people to take their cars to games and concerts in lieu of alternative modes of transit. He reminded that the arena bill passed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg this fall requires that car trips to the arena be reduced.

Both Councilmen Steve Cohn and Steve Hansen spoke in support of a bike-friendly design. We need to “complete our bike network all the way into the arena site,” Cohn said. (It’s worth noting that AT&T Park in San Francisco offers a free bike valet during Giants games.)

Granger, who unveiled concepts to the public for the first time during a 15-minute presentation, discussed the idea of a large plaza near the arena, at the northeast corner near J and Seventh streets. “About as big as the plaza at L.A. Live” is how he described it.

Then, he proceeded to share three distinct arena design options.

The first showcased an arena that allows people on K Street to see inside, via large glass windows, and even possibly enter the arena through an open-air deck on the second level. “This is something we are falling in love with very quickly,” Granger said of the idea, which was widely praised by council members. “You might literally be able to walk in from the plaza on K Street” and watch a game or a concert, he said.

He also said this gives the team more flexibility with seating. Only three concerts out of the past 1,000 at Sleep Train Arena attracted more than 18,000 attendees, and only 27 had more than 15,000, Granger explained. He said an arena with a base capacity of 17,000 could then expand to possibly 19,000 with indoor-outdoor synergy.

“Synergy” was the word of the day, in fact. Councilman Hansen said he wanted to see an arena that “reopens the grid, reconnects the city.” Specifically, he doesn’t want to see it close off L Street and the Capitol Mall to all the action.

The other designs included one that looked like a Guggenheim Museum-spaceship, complete with lawn and solar panels on the roof, and another that had giant video-projection screens draping the facade.

Foremost Kings-arena critic Neil deMause, of the website Field of Schemes, dismissed last week’s presentation as simply an opportunity for public-relations spin and excuses, especially when it comes to the lower-than-anticipated arena capacity.

“What this seems to add up to, reading between the lines, is: ’We don’t want to spend a lot of money building a building that we can’t sell out on a nightly basis, so instead we’re going to put some folding chairs outside and let people peek in through a window,’” he wrote at www.fieldofschemes.com.

Others found consensus at the meeting: Attendees, Mayor Kevin Johnson and even Shaquille O’Neal (not in attendance) all agree on the same design as their favorite.

Johnson enthusiastically so: He waved his arms and even his right foot in the air to vote for his preferred look.