Thank You Arco Arena
In the middle of a field in Natomas, Arco Arena opened its doors on November 8, 1988. Home to the NBA's Sacramento Kings, Arco Arena hosted over 200 events a year for a community that had little else in the terms of entertainment. Built for only $40 million, Arco Arena over the years became a source of contention as it became outdated, unmanaged, and simply too small and too cheap for today's professional league standards. In fact the arena referred to the old barn almost cost the City of Sacramento its team as the Maloof family tried to take the Kings from Sacramento two times because they could not build a new venue.
While those outside of Sacramento look at Arco Arena and laugh at its size, its wooden floors, its lack of technology, for many in Sacramento, the old barn will always hold a special place in our hearts. Arco Arena is place many Sacramentans cherish. And today when we say goodbye, all we can say to the old barn is this: Thank You.
No better atmosphere
Arco Arena is the Home of the Sacramento Kings. Through the 28 history of the arena, the Kings have only made the playoffs 9 times. I personally have been to hundreds of Kings games and while I don't have the exact numbers, I know I have seen the team lose way more than I have seen them win. In some years, the team on the floor barely looked like a professional basketball team.
Despite the lack luster record, despite the bad basketball, despite the general poor performce, Sacramento supported its teams. For decades the barn was sold out. For decades Kings fans were loud. For decades Kings fans have been proud. Why?
The answers are numerous. First, the Kings are the only professional sports team in Sacramento. Many outside Sacramento believed, and still believe, Sacramento doesn't deserve a professional team. But the Kings have become intertwined with the fabric of our community. They are a part of us. And Sacramentans support their own, like family. And with that support comes a love of where we all gather to support OUR TEAM.
Second, there is no better place to watch basketball than the old barn. While many others look at Arco and scoff at its size, says its too small, and laugh at the lack of "luxury" suites, this is one of the reasons it is great. There truly is not a bad seat in the house. That seat in the very last row of the second deck still has a great view of the game. The lack of luxury suites makes it possible for folks who did not grow up with much money to still feel like they are a part of the game because they can see without too much trouble, they can hear the squeek of the shoes of the floor. As someone whose family did not have much money growing up and who sat in those seats way up in the top, this fact was never lost on me. You didn't need to be a millionare to have a good seat and be a part of the action. Thank you Arco.
Bigger than Basketball
Twice, the Sacramento Kings almost moved away from Sacramento for reasons of personal greed of the Maloof Family. Twice those moves were blocked by the Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson, with the help and support of Kings fans. One of the mottos of the leading grass roots movement to keep the Kings that it was "Bigger than Basketball." That motto is absolutely correct.
Like I said, I have been to hundreds and hundreds of Kings games. But some of my fondest memories inside that arena have nothing to do with basketball. I graduated High School inside that arena. I graduated from college inside that arena. I watched my wife graduated college inside that arena. I saw the Rolling Stones inside that arena. I took my kids to Disney on Ice inside that arena. I was the Circus, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, inside that arena. I played basketball in that arena. I met heroes inside that arena. That arena hosted some of the most important events of my life. While many see just a building, I see memories. I see some of the happiest and proudest moments of my life. Those memories will always stay with me even after they tear down the wooden floors. Thank You Arco.
Good Bye Old Friend
Arco Arena, now called Sleep Train Arena, will close its doors and make room for the new State of the Art Golden 1 Center. Many are talking about their memories inside the old barn. And rightfully so. For one reason or another, Sacramentans entered the doors of Arco on many occassions, walked down its narrow concourses, walked onto its wooden floors, and sat in one of the cheap plastic seats. And while the new arena will be nice, it has big shoes to fill. For those like me who grew up in Sacramento, Arco was home. It was familiar. It was accessible. And today, I say thank you Arco. You served us all well.