Kings take shot at bringing NBA All-Star game to Sacramento
The Sacramento Kings are looking to bring the NBA All-Star game to California’s capital for the first time.
Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, Mayor Darrell Steinberg and tourism officials are set to detail plans for the bid for the game in 2022 or ’23 on Thursday and submit an application to the league Friday.
Getting the game would cap a remarkable comeback for Sacramento, which nearly lost its franchise to Seattle in 2013 before Ranadive bought the team and put together a deal to build a state-of-the-art downtown arena.
“I think it would be a recognition of the fact that the city went all-in on the Kings,” Ranadive said. “It would be the ultimate recognition that the city pulled it off. There’s a love affair between the Kings and the city and the NBA. It would be an exclamation point on that love affair.”
Winning the bid won’t be easy. The Golden State Warriors want the game for their new arena in downtown San Francisco that is set to open for the 2019-20 season. Milwaukee is also bidding, with its new arena set to open next season. Other cities also will get involved.
Commissioner Adam Silver said at the All-Star game last weekend in Los Angeles that he generally supports a bid from Sacramento with one major caveat.
“Sacramento and the surrounding communities provide a tremendous opportunity for an All-Star. Wine country, great golf, great scenery, all kinds of wonderful things that I think people would love to visit around an All-Star. But at the end of the day, we have to have a sufficient number of hotel rooms,” he said.
Ranadive said new projects will ensure the city meets the NBA’s requirement of about 6,000 rooms in the area. But the bid will offer even more options with up to 1,000 rooms through a partnership with Airbnb, as well as two or three 300-room small luxury cruise ships in the Port of Sacramento.
Silver said he would be open to that possibility, pointing out that USA Basketball players and guests have used cruise ships for accommodations at the Olympics, including the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Not only will we meet the requirement but we’ll also give them a choice,” Ranadive said. “Do they want to be on a beautiful river? Do they want to be in a beautiful home? Or do they want to be in a hotel room? All of that will be accessible in less than 30 minutes.”
The events surrounding the game will be anchored by the Golden 1 Center, with an indoor-outdoor Global Pavilion near the capitol to host concerts and food events that show off the region.
The bid promises to take fans from transportation hubs to accommodations and venues in 30 minutes or less by the use of self-driving vehicles and dedicated traffic lanes.
Ranadive believes the arena raised the bar on technology and environmentalism for sports venues. There are “smart turnstiles” that allow fans to enter at more than triple the usual speed and the NBA’s first 4K ultra HD video board that stretches 84 feet long.
The arena is the first professional sports venue powered completely by solar energy, saving about 1 million gallons of water a year compared with a typical venue of its size. It was built with recycled material from the mall that stood at the site before construction began and gets 90 percent of its food and beverages from within 150 miles.
“I think when we built the arena we had a goal that it would be the best arena that had ever been built,” Ranadive said. “It would be an iconic structure to look at. It would give the fans an experience like no other. To be able to share that with the entire basketball loving world is obviously a huge privilege and would be a treat for us to do that.”
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