Save the Hard Rock

Better get your T-shirt now: Bites was stunned by the new plan to relocate Arco Arena next to Downtown Plaza, a move that would require the Hard Rock Cafe to vacate the premises. Like many of our readers, Bites is appalled that local politicians and developers are completely overlooking the historic contribution that the Hard Rock has made to our community. A uniquely Sacramento institution, the Hard Rock has served as both the cornerstone for downtown revitalization and the visual embodiment of the traditions and aspirations that have made and continue to make our city great. Leave it to our legacy-challenged leaders to unilaterally plot the destruction of this sacred landmark.They must be stopped.

Though Bites is still putting together the financing to purchase—the domain name is being held hostage by some mysterious entity (the Maloofs?)—the campaign to save this irreplaceable institution must begin immediately. Even those who don’t care about preserving our local history surely must recognize how our free market—which, after all, made America what it is today—is severely compromised by what’s going on now behind the scenes. Bites was saddened further on Monday when Bee muckraker R.E. Graswich encouraged Sacramento to sweeten the arena deal by forgiving the Maloofs some $80 million in city loans. Imagine, just for a moment, how much good the Hard Rock Cafe could do with that $80 million!

If, as it currently appears, the city is hell-bent on this latest folly, then at least we can use the naming rights to take some sting out of the maneuver and show that we’re capable of learning from our history. Bites casts its vote for the John Sutter Hard Rock Memorial Arena.

Mis-Bee-havin’: Speaking of failed Bee sportswriters, Bites touched base with the ever-quotable Jim Van Vliet last week, following the news that he’s suing the Bee for wrongful termination. Van Vliet, who was let go after reporting on a game he (reportedly) watched on TV instead of at the stadium, still is reluctant to discuss the specifics of his case. But he did offer a typically candid view of his former employer. “When I started at the paper back in the late ’60s, it was a family thing, where you could come in as a copy boy and work your way up,” Van Vliet told Bites. “Now, if you come in as a copy boy, you’ll be lucky to retire as a 65-year-old copy boy.” Van Vliet believes his firing—for reasons he dismisses as doing “something a little stupid”—is symptomatic of larger problems at the Bee. “I’ve learned that no matter who you are,” said Van Vliet of today’s workplace, “you’re just one asshole away from being homeless.”

Pimping for our Kings: During all the hoopla surrounding the NBA playoffs, News10 anchors and reporters kept up the nonstop pimping of the station’s broadcast and promotional partner, the Kings. But Bites, while overdosing on the station’s newscasts last week, was surprised to find that even a wounded soldier was fair game in the promotional effort. Following a story about a soldier who returned from Iraq to recover from a leg wound, anchor Dale Schornack added a little postscript that turned the soldier into an unwitting promo prop. “One other thing: Sgt. Frame says watching tonight’s Kings game on News10 is at the top of his list of things to do,” Schornack said, subtly revealing the serviceman’s television-viewing habits. Throughout the course of the week, News10 newshounds kept up their fanatical devotion to the team at the expense of real news, with several newscasts giving the Kings five or six minutes—or about a quarter of the 23 minutes of airtime that make up a half-hour newscast, minus commercials. One newscast, however, felt the roar for more than seven minutes, or nearly a third of the total broadcast time. “We’ve got the ‘Go Kings’ banner up on our News10 tower,” divulged meteorologist Elissa Lynn, pointing to a live shot of said structure. “We’re all of the same mind: Another win!”