New Downtown Arena Deal "Dead"

Sacramento Kings Owners Suggest
Renovating Natomas Arena

BY CHRIS SHANNON
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

No.

That was Mayor Kevin Johnson’s response to the idea of renovating the Power Balance Pavilion, and he made it clear the city would provide no help in doing so.

The idea of renovation was surprisingly revealed during the Maloof’s press conference earlier in the day as they outlined their concerns regarding the tentative agreement reached between them and the city.

“Why don’t we look at redoing at Power Balance Arena?” said George Maloof during their press conference. “A lot of our customers, most of our customers, enjoy going to Power Balance or enjoy doing an arena at that site.”

“We already have the infrastructure, the parking, it’s all there. The cost to the city will be much less… and it just seems more natural to work.”

George Maloof is not alone in his feelings about the Natomas site.

Gregg Lukenbill also feels Natomas is a better option for an arena. Lukenbill is the primary man behind bringing the Kings to Sacramento as an owner in the mid-1980s, and building both the first ARCO Arena (aka “the Madhouse on Market Street”) and the current facility.

“Those freeways out there didn’t get built by accident,” Lukenbill explained. “They got built there by long term planning of the County of Sacramento in junction with the Eisenhower Administration’s Interstate Freeway System Planning of the 1950’s.”

Lukenbill emphasized the existence of eight interchanges as benefiting the Natomas site.

“That’s two huge interstate freeway intersection-quadrant that you’re in right there,” said Lukenbill. “There’s nothing like that in the United States. A site there will be easy for people to get there permanently. Whether you’re in a car or in transit, you’ll always be able to get out of there quickly.”

Others also saw the Maloofs new found desire to renovate Power Balance Pavilion as advantageous to Natomas.

“It’s definitely an advantage for Natomas,” said Greg Shaw Ph.D, Chair of the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration program at Sacramento State. “Natomas needs to capitalize on this with planning not just for reconstruction of the arena but for the area around the arena as well.”

Still, the Maloofs new desire to renovate was unexpected.

Ed Koop, President of the Natomas Chamber of Commerce, was surprised by the Maloofs’ statement, saying it had never been their position to this point.

Speaking via text message, Koop said “from a Natomas standpoint, if we can keep the Kings and arena, I’m all for it.”

Koop also pointed out Natomas’ support for the team and how the area was developed specifically for an arena.

Until now, the Natomas region had been planning for something new to occupy the Power Balance site. These ideas ranged from a hospital campus, to a college or technology campus, to an auto mall – idea that will have to wait after today’s announcement.

And that might not be a bad thing.

“Natomas has had some hard times since the recession,” said Shaw. “The real plan out there was never really completed; this is a time to revisit that for the entire region.”

At press time, Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby, who represents the area where the existing arena is located, said she had no comment as she was waiting for more information.