The Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento officially opened its doors to the public on October 1 and, since then, close to 200,000 have already checked the new place out.
It’s been an impressive welcoming party, for sure. An estimated 100,000 paraded through during the opening Fanfest event; the Tuesday-Wednesday Paul McCartney concerts on Oct. 4-5 both sold out; the WWE No Mercy wrestling pay-per-view tour last Sunday was also a sellout; and then of course, Monday night, there was Kings basketball, a pre-season match-up against the Israeli club team Maccabi Haifa. Oh, and the Le Diner en Blanc pop-up picnic group descended on the site Oct. 8.
The way Golden 1 Center has transformed the city has been well documented, and thus far, not overhyped. Anticipated parking and traffic problems have not materialized – the street closures around the arena have seemed to work perfectly – and restaurant and bars have a vitality that has created a unique vibe I haven’t seen in the 35 years since I’ve lived and worked in the area.
Not all is perfect, of course. Fans have complained about the tight fit of all seats in the arena, the steep pitch of the upper deck seats, which are lacking cup holders (as are most lower bowl seats), as well as the high cost of food and beverages ($14 for a beer?).
But with the opening now history, the events in the next year will keep coming: 40-plus Kings games, concerts by big names such as the Maroon 5 (Oct. 15), Jimmy Buffett (Oct. 20) Cirque du Soleil (Nov. 30) and Stevie Nicks/The Pretenders (Dec. 13). There’s Disney on Ice (Nov. 3-6), and the much coveted NCAA basketball tournament will arrive in March.
As the bevy of planned restaurants, hotels and housing materializes in the coming years, along with a possible stadium to house a Major League Soccer team, our new Sacramento is no longer just a dream.
Photos by Steve Martarano, unless otherwise indicated