Downtown's Long Anticipated Golden One Center Comes to Life 10

Art, food, entertainment AND the Kings!

When you overhear people talking about dribbling, do you instinctively reach for your smartphone to share photos of your baby or grandchildren, only to be met with sets of glaring eyes in shades of purple, baby blue, and silver-and-black?

During the more than two-and-a-half years since lead architect AECOM released its first set of survey- and focus-group influenced renderings of downtown’s Golden 1 Center – a $500 million, 17,500-19,000-seat, solar-powered, high-tech haven that will serve as both the Sacramento Kings’ home court, as well as the city’s premiere special-event venue – it’s been increasingly difficult to ignore feeling like a freak while all those around you seem to be chanting “One of us! One of us!”

You rolled your eyes, and you shook your head like an earthquake-rattled Vivek Ranadivé bobblehead as Sacramento-based media covered the minutia of the day-to-day construction progress with the kind of attention you expected to be reserved for a species-preserving ark, or a landing pad prepped for a close encounter of the Third Kind.

But as this month’s scheduled opening nears, complete with a planned three-block radius of retail outlets, fresh dining choices, and a 16-floor hotel tower in the adjacent Downtown Commons (DOCO), it’s time for even the hater-deflators to embrace the center as a distinctly Sacramento-flavored “wow” destination positioned to entice and entertain not only the 1.6 million new visitors the center is expected to draw, but longtime and native residents as well.

In other words, the Golden 1 Center and the DOCO administration want to reassure the community – its proponents and detractors alike – that when it comes to the venue’s many selling points, basketball isn’t the only game in town. If the free-throws and slam-dunks on the floor hold little interest for your spouse, significant other, friend or family member, there’s no reason to feel guilty for dragging them to the center. There is much to see, do and taste.

If their hands are permanently grafted to their cell phone or tablet, the Kings have them covered thanks to warp-speed connectivity that has the team heralding the facility as “the world’s most-connected indoor sports and entertainment venue” featuring free wi-fi connections that the NBA franchise boasts are17,000 times faster than the average residential network.

Do they find the roar of a game distracting? Again, no worries. The wi-fi connection will extend into the plaza surrounding the arena.

Those indifferent to b-ball and whose digital device-manipulating digits require a time-out, can make their way to the arena’s concessions area where appetites can be indulged without a whiff of guilt. As Sports Illustrated’s Tim Newcomb reported in an Aug. 15 post, “all island-style concessions are fully open to help not just with sight lines, but also to create a more food-aware environment.” “The Kings have started promoting their farm-to-fork options in the arena, with all food coming from within 150 miles of the arena,” Newcomb wrote. “It should feel like a farmers market,” Kings President Chris Granger told Newcomb, “not a concession.”

If one is hungry for some artistic sustenance, the Kings and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission have reinforced Sacramento’s cultural history with a series of public art commissions designed to delight those whose idea of fine art extends beyond all-weather vinyl banners. Among the featured artworks: two Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) murals by Esteban Villa, Juanishi Orosco and Stan Padilla.

Also highly anticipated as of press time is the first publicly-owned and permanently displayed original sculpture by world-renowned artist Jeff Koons (“Coloring Book #4”). Three more projects, created by local artists Bill Fontana, Gale Hart and Bryan Valenzuela, will greet visitors at the main entrances to the arena and DOCO.

The Golden 1 Center and DOCO blur the lines of architectural design and art, offering an integrated, sensory-soothing experience that combines Disney’s original EPCOT Center concepts with the futuristic pleasure-domed environments from “Logan’s Run.”

“Golden 1 Center’s indoor-outdoor concept celebrates and allows visitors to enjoy Sacramento’s climate and culture in a number of ways,” trumpets a center media release. “In addition to farm-to-fork concessions, the arena’s facade patterns will depict leaves and trees cut into perforated metal, fitting for the ‘City of Trees.’”

If you prefer music to sports, you can take in such acts as Paul McCartney (Oct. 4-5); Maroon 5, Tove Lo and R. City (Oct. 15); Pentatonix and Us the Duo (Oct. 19); Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band (Oct. 20).

Also on tap: WWE: No Mercy (Oct. 9); Disney on Ice: Passport to Adventure (Nov. 3-6); Cirque du Soleil: Toruk (Nov. 30-Dec. 4); and Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dec. 28).