DA's Morning Tip

Kings get a royal arena upgrade with ultra-modern Golden 1 Center

Sacramento's new digs boast technological, environmental innovations few NBA arenas can come close to matching

David Aldridge

Can an arena change a franchise’s mojo?

It’s always something, it seems, in Sacramento. And this time, no one can blame DeMarcus Cousins.

Last week, in a hilarious attempt at revisionist history, owner Vivek Ranadive took shots at just about everyone who worked for the team before he bought it in 2013. In an interview with USA Today, Ranadive said that “no one wanted to be there” when he took over, because of the rot that had figuratively set into the franchise. This conveniently ignored the fact that there were several employees still very much working to try and make one of the league’s worst franchises better — including then-general manager Geoff Petrie — and steamrolled all of the errors that have come on Ranadive’s watch. Or maybe the Kings haven’t gone 90-156 the last three years.

Petrie, a proud man who built the early 2000-era Kings into a title contender behind Chris Webber and Vlade Divac, is usually reticent in the extreme. But he felt compelled to vent to Deadspin.com in response.

“I found him to be a very arrogant and dismissive little chap,” Petrie said of Ranadive. “He doesn’t seem to understand that he owns it. He was the one that came in with Basketball 3.0, and changing the culture, ‘I have the smartest guys in the room, they’re four steps ahead of everybody else, I have 80 gigs of data, nobody else has that.’”

A chastened Ranadive apologized on Friday to the Sacramento Bee, saying he meant no disrespect to Petrie. “I fully understand that it’s a huge privilege to own a basketball team, and as chairman of the ownership, the buck stops with me,” Ranadive told the Bee. “I accept responsibility for everything. All the mistakes are my mistakes.”

The timing of the latest messes was especially unfortunate, as it stepped all over the franchise’s best news in a long, long time — the opening of the $557 million Golden 1 Center downtown, finally replacing the old Arco Arena (last known as Sleep Train Arena).

No longer are the Kings playing in the middle of a barren patch of land about eight miles from the city. Their new building, with a practice facility built in, is the centerpiece for a long-hoped for downtown renaissance, the fruit of the league’s decision to keep the team in Sacramento instead of allowing it to be sold to hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who planned to move the team to Seattle. (There is a reason the arena’s official address is 500 David J. Stern Walk.)

“Amazing, amazing facility,” Coach Dave Joerger said Sunday night. “We’ve only played there once, so it’ll take some getting used to. But we’ve gotten four or five days in at the practice facility. And it’s not only how nice the arena is, but how significant it is, a sign of the work that so many people put in to keep the team in the city.”

Ranadive should justly be proud of the public-private partnership, in a state that had been extremely reluctant over most of the previous two decades to okay public subsidies to build arenas or stadiums. The city and state put $255 million toward construction; Ranadive and his ownership group paid the rest, including cost overruns from the original $447 million pricetag. The new digs will allow the Kings to generate the kinds of revenues from suite sales, courtside seats, signage and other streams that allow teams to compete on a more even playing field financially.

And, the technological and environmental innovations in Golden 1 make it unique among NBA arenas.

Golden 1 is the first indoor arena in the world to be certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum, the highest honor given by the Green Building Certification Institute, a third-party entity which certifies green buildings and designs worldwide.

LEED defines a green building as one that excels in six areas: sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design process. Basically, green buildings use less water and less power, use what water and power they do consume more efficiently and emit fewer greenhouse gases than other buildings.

“From the beginning, Vivek has pushed us … he wanted the design to be something that was iconic, something that was interesting and provocative and reflects the environment of Sacramento, the culture of Sacramento,” said team president Chris Granger. “Obviously, from that point we get what we call the world’s first indoor-outdoor arena.”

The indoor-outdoor impact is achieved with five six-story tall glass doors at the front of the building, each 150 feet long. When they are opened, the building opens up to those standing outside. Concession stands were built along the building’s interior walls, allowing patrons a 360-degree view of the court below at all times. The team is sourcing 90 percent of the arena’s food and beverages from within 150 miles of Sacramento, coming from sustainable farms.

Golden 1 is the first NBA arena that’s directly solar powered. Solar panels on the roof of the building collect 1.2 megawatts of energy, which is used to power the building during the daytime, and provides 15 percent of the building’s daily power. The arena does use electricity for nighttime events, but offsets that by purchasing additional solar power (11 megawatts) from an offsite facility, built in part specifically to service the arena, and which reduces its footprint downtown.

“The fact that we achieved the Leed Platinum recognition, the fact that it’s the first sporting venue that we believe in the world that gets 100 percent of its power from the sun, we think it’s perfect,” Granger said. “We think it’s perfect for Sacramento, where we sit as the state capital of California.”

Using solar was not just some do-gooder impulse. Sacramento has 300 days of sunshine every year. It also has what is called the “Delta Breeze,” a sea breeze that comes off the Sacramento River every night. The breeze cools the city by 20 to 30 degrees every night. Opening the glass doors lets in the breeze, which is more efficient and cheaper to cool the building than using massive air conditioning units.

“What we tried to do from a design standpoint was leverage our resources that we have in Sacramento and design around those things we don’t have,” Granger said. “For example … we don’t have a lot of water in Northern California, or in California right now. We have ultra low flow plumbing fixtures throughout the building that save up to 40 percent of (water use of) even the most up to date buildings in the country. We do things like collect gray water, the condensation that falls off of an air conditioning unit. We capture that water and use that water irrigate the plaza in front of Golden 1.”

Additionally, the hope is putting the building downtown, near a light rail station, will reduce vehicular use. Paul McCartney opened the building with two concerts 10 days ago, and ridership at that station rose 300 percent. The team claims that the downtown location will reduce average miles traveled per attendee by 20 percent.

The Kings believe their approach to technology inside the building has “future-proofed” the arena, allowing it to continue to evolve as it ages rather than become obsolete quickly. They have strived to reduce what they call “friction” between the fan and the building.

It starts with “smart turnstiles,” which can get many more people into the building — 1,000 per hour for McCartney’s concert, compared with 300 per hour using standard handheld scanners to take tickets.

Among the Kings’ technology goals for the arena was, “we wanted the building to be smart,” said Chief Technology Officer Ryan Montoya. “As Vivek says, we wanted the building to check into people as opposed to people checking into the building. So to do that, we have the most robust Infrastructure imaginable — not only to future proof, but to give us the ability to scale.”

There is enough bandwidth in the two 100 gig pipes coming into the arena to handle the wireless needs of a city. There are more 3,000 miles of structured cabling running throughout the building, enough to take one end to Canada. An app allows fans to upgrade their seats, order food, get real time info on concession and bathroom lines, gamble and get live streaming of the action. Fans can access off-court cameras at the players’ entrance and outside the locker rooms, look at replays and receive advanced stats on their mobile devices.

The scoreboard inside, designed by a former Disney techie, is 6,100 square feet — the world’s largest, and first, 4K, ultra high definition board for an arena. (It is, in parlance, “clean.”)

“The players will tell you, as they’re running up and down the court, it will be easier for them to see the score, and the data,” Montoya said. “And we’re going to be able to deliver data that we haven’t been able to deliver before, because we have these four wings dedicated just to scores and data. Across, we didn’t want to just iterate, we wanted to create the blueprint, and that’s what we did.”

In the mezzanine of the building, employees man what is called “Mission Control,” which sounds like the room where Willie Bank hid the artificial intelligence Greco in Ocean’s Thirteen. It’s home to 12 monitors with Kings employees from their social media, guest services, parking and other departments all manning every second of every fan’s experience — “so that, when a fan comes to the arena, from the moment they wake up to when they drive downtown, everything is efficient,” Montoya said. “And it becomes very easy for the fan to interact with the arena.”

The outdoor plaza surrounding the building is home to multiple local artists, and features an original Jeff Koons Coloring Book sculpture, Piglet, which cost $8 million. The hope is for the plaza to be a year-round gathering spot even when the Kings aren’t playing there (the initial estimate is for around 175 events to take place at Golden 1 in its first year of operation) and talk sports, art, music, everything.

Into all of this come the Kings, looking to re-create what was one of the best home-court advantages in basketball back in the day. Even before the Kings turned the corner at the turn of the century, Arco was one of the loudest venues in the league, with some of the game’s most loyal fans.

In the new building, more than 10,000 of the arena’s 17,500 seats for basketball are in the lower bowl. The upper levels are pitched more vertically, as many new buildings are, to keep the noise in. The practice facility has all the bells and whistles of the modern: underwater treadmill, cryogenic chambers, barber on standby — “I wouldn’t even know how to describe all the bells and whistles,” Joerger said. It will be part of the unending recruiting game every team now plays.

It will take Joerger, the Kings’ fourth coach in three years, to get traction with his program. At his previous stop in Memphis, the Grizzlies had, and have, an identity – “Grit N’ Grind” — that they’ve had for years. It’s different in NorCal. Few franchises have been as chaotic.

But they now have an anchor, a building that may set the standard for arena construction around the league in the future.

“It’s a nice energy boost for everyone,” Granger said. “And even on the visiting side. To be able to do something that is more modern and more attractive to potential future Kings is also important to us. The building and the practice facility gives people a greater sense of pride, which can’t help but impact how we approach the game.”


Anno Duncan. From Keane Guiden:

What moves, if any, do you think can my Spurs make to better contend with the Warriors? Also, do you think KG is officially retired or could be seen him pop up somewhere (Clippers) this season?

I was a little surprised the Spurs didn’t come up with a point/combo guard during the offseason. They need someone who can keep Tony Parker’s minutes down and can better defend opposing ones. (That’s why I thought they’d go all in on Mike Conley.) They’ll be fine scoring, with LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Parker, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills — and, now, Pau Gasol. It’s the defensive end that concerns me with them. Leonard is obviously an amazing defender, but having to guard 1-4 on any given night has to be taxing on him. As for KG, I have learned never to say never where retirements are concerned. He obviously has an open invitation from Doc Rivers to sign up if he ever changes his mind.

The first step is the easiest one. From Frank Lamourt:

I have a lot more respect for LeBron, D-Wade, CP3 and Carmelo for taking a stand at awards show. Isiah Thomas and D-Wade are role models for taking the message to Chicago and getting involved with the people to stop the violence.

Anybody can take a knee, but show me that you care by getting involved. Give back the message of peace and love by showing up where real problems exist. There is hope.

Agree, Frank. This is where I want to focus my attention in the coming weeks and months: what is the next step? How do players engage and use their celebrity to really help people in their communities? I know the time constraints on players — games, practices and the like — conspire against them doing more than one-offs during the season, like clinics and such. So it’s not easy to go from gesture to meaningful change agent. I will be curious to see what guys do. You mentioned the Peace Game that Isiah has held for several years in Chicago as a good example. I also think about someone like Caron Butler, for example, who’s done more for people in the communities, like coat drives, and franchising fast-food restaurants and hiring local folk to work there. That’s next level, to me.

Nothing Long About This Goodbye. From Alex Parrish:

I have a trade question that I would love an expert’s opinion on. Tyson Chandler of the Suns doesn’t seem like the right fit for their youth movement. He has a great contract trade-wise for the next few seasons, especially under the current and next year’s rising salary caps. The Suns also hold 2 first rounders this upcoming draft — their own and the Heat’s protected (as you already know).

My question is this: could Tyson Chandler and one or more of those picks be the centerpiece of a trade for either Kevin Love of the Cavs or Nikola Vucevic of the Magic? Both big men are allegedly on the table for trade talks. This seems like a no-brainer for the Cavs to go all in with defense/rebounding with a Tristan Thompson/Tyson Chandler front court, and the Cavs would benefit greatly from Chandler’s friendly contract in the upcoming free-agency period. The Suns would get a big man who fits their offensive system in Kevin Love. On the Orlando side, the Magic would benefit from a proven veteran, champion, and defensive guru, especially to mentor Bismack Biyombo. His contract would be really nice for Orlando, too, comparable to Vucevic’s current deal. The Suns would thrive with Vucevic in the front court, especially with the great guards they have. Do you think either of these trades could or should happen?

Somebody’s been sampling from the over-caffeinated trade rumor bin, I see. You can forget Cleveland having any interest in moving Love, Alex. As long as LeBron is on the roster, floor spacing will be critically important. What Love actually does shooting the ball is almost irrelevant; defenses have to account for him, as they will have to account for Mike Dunleavy when he’s in. Thompson was outstanding as a five, but his effectiveness would diminish considerably as a non-stretch four (what would the point of playing him and Chandler together be when they do the same things?). Same with Orlando; Biyombo is a rebounder and shot blocker, the exact skill sets Chandler would bring. I don’t doubt that Phoenix may move Chandler this year but Cleveland and Orlando aren’t going to be the places. (Would Milwaukee make sense for, say, Greg Monroe? Wouldn’t be a bad call, and those teams have done business together before; I always look for teams that have trade histories. GMs tend to trust other GMs who haven’t shafted them.)

Send your questions, comments, and new Christmas toys ideas for a family in need for next week’s Morning Tip to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!


One week to the season, and to finding out just how crazy the Warriors might just be to watch.

I don’t root for pro basketball teams, but I do so admire the Minnesota Lynx. I really enjoy watching Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whelan play. I enjoyed talking with Renee Montgomery a few months ago, when she told me about the Lynx’s party at Prince’s house. So maybe I’ll be rooting just a little for the Lynx to defend their WNBA title in the fifth and deciding game against the L.A. Sparks Thursday night.

I still think there’s a place for a guy like Michael Carter-Williams in today’s NBA, so hopefully, him going from Milwaukee to Chicago for Tony Snell could be helpful. It’s possible his perimeter-deficient game could survive in small doses there playing off of Dwyane Wade and Doug McDermott, giving him driving lanes to the basket. But MCW’s problems still start and end outside of the paint. He just has to become credible out there.

Great read by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz on referee Bill Kennedy’s journey to live his true life.


Sure hope Anthony Davis will be ready for the season opener in New Orleans.

I simply do not understand the point of playing overtime in exhibition games. Do. Not. Any preseason game tied at the end of regulation should just end, the way baseball handles ties in spring training. You don’t need an extra five minutes to look at anyone you haven’t seen during the previous 48 minutes; all that can happen is someone can get hurt playing an utterly meaningless patch of basketball.

Probably not the best way to improve U.S.-Sino relations.

Am I the only one who thinks the proliferation of drone use by civilians is an insane idea? This particular story is unfortunate, but not tragic; is it going to take one of these things bringing down a plane to get everyone’s attention?


$70,000,000 — Cost of the Dallas Mavericks’ new practice facility, which opened last week http://www.mavsmoneyball.com/2016/10/16/13299716/mavericks-practice-facility-70-million-mark-cuban-nba. The new building, which has two practice courts, is just down the road a piece from American Airlines Center.

.289 — Career 3-point percentage (55-190) over two seasons for Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, who is being moved to small forward full time this season by new coach Frank Vogel.

$148,598.15 — Amount in U.S. dollars that this Chinese fan won after hitting a halfcourt shot during the Rockets-Pelicans Global Games exhibition in Beijing last week.

More Morning Tip: Cavs ready to defend title | DA’s Top 15 Rankings | Q&A with Kyle Lowry

Longtime NBA reporter and columnist David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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