The Sacramento Kings are in the midst of an arena transition. Having moved from the ARCO Arena, which was the team’s home for three years after moving to the west coast from Kansas city in 1985, the Kings are once again looking to move on to bigger and better things. The Sleep Train Arena (which was also called the ARCO Arena from 1988-2011 despite being a different venue) is now too small and too old by NBA standards. Thus the Kings have broken ground on a new facility (the Golden 1 Center) which will be open in time for the 2016-17 season. For one last campaign then the Kings will be back at the Sleep Train Arena and they will be looking to go out with a bang.
The Sleep Train Arena is the cheapest NBA venue in use today as it cost just $40 million in planning and construction. This is because the arena is located on the northern fringes of Sacramento, a neighborhood which at the time was isolated but which now has grown with the Kings. The problem with the arena now though is it is just outdated by NBA standards and is poor at generating revenue. One of the most obvious problems here is the seating capacity of 17,317, which is the lowest capacity in the entire league.
One of the random aspects of this venue is directly north of the arena. Here you will find an unfinished baseball stadium which saw its construction halted by the Sacramento Sports Association running out of money in 1989. With a separate facility having been completed to host the minor league Sacramento River Cats in the year 2000, this unfinished ball park will likely stay in that state forever.
With the Kings set to follow the lead of other clubs and move from the northern fringes to a swanky downtown arena, it is important to note some of the greatest moments in Sleep Train’s history. The arena is a throwback to smaller market days in many ways and there is a real family feel among the fans, staff and teams that play there. Sleep Train for example hosts several high school state basketball championship games every year, along with many graduation ceremonies for local high schools. These events used to be common place in arenas around the country, but with many of the newer venues charging high prices for facility rental, there is a charm about Sleep Train and the community within which will not be easily replaced.
Two of the biggest events in arena history have nothing to do with Kings basketball at all. Sleep Train Arena hosted the 1993 Royal Rumble for the WWF, while two years later Billy Graham hosted the Greater Sacramento Crusade over a five night span at the arena which saw a total of 177,000 attendees. That included a reported 47,500 people on the most visited night. Again, these are not huge names, or grand shows, but they are part of what has made Sleep Train Arena a key piece of the fabric of Sacramento.
image courtesy of sleeptrainarena.com