I love you. I openly admit it. You have been such a huge part of my life, I can’t imagine my world without you. And now, just as quickly as you came into my life, you’re gone. Arco Arena is no more.
I remember my first game at what was affectionately known as “The Old Barn.” December 29, 1992. My cousin and his then girlfriend took me on the way to San Jose where I spent the weekend with my aunt and uncle. Over 20 years have past since that day, and the memory of a 14 year old boy has now become a bit hazy. But I remember loving it. I loved every second I was there.
I always say Sacramento is a city unlike any other. And I am proud to be from here. Not like Phil who went to Los Angeles for college. Ick. And I am proud of Arco Arena (I feel bad because technically it’s Sleep Train Arena, but I’m not calling it that). Wooden floors, seats that don’t match and were falling apart. Leaky roof. All of it.
And I was there. I remember going to a game in college all by myself and spending waaay to much just to sit 4 rows behind Kevin Garnett.
When the Kings won game 3 against Utah in the playoffs in 1999, I was there. My friend Ryan drove up from San Luis Obispo (about 4-5 hours) just for the game. Along with our friends Turner and another Ryan, we screamed as the Kings won. The game was on TNT, and we thought it was TBS. We took a sign letting the world know that we thought Jazz forward “Thurl Bailey Sucks.” Because the letters matched and we were convinced that would get us on TV. Oops. But it didn’t matter because we were there. I was there for game 4 too, but John Stockton ruined that one.Last season, I squeezed into a middle school to join the high five line to get onto the court! Also, I am squeezed into a medium t-shit. On top of my jersey, and undershirt. And t-shirt that was the give away that night. Soo it was snug. If you look at my profile picture on wordpress, I met my dream girl, Harley Quinn at Arco one night.
I saw Peja Stojakovic tie a game that was TECHNICALLY after the buzzer. But hey it counted. Check out Olden Polynice in the background. A former King who had no problem letting us know what he thought of the constant “O.P. SUCKS!! O.P. SUCKS” chants that we berated him with the entire game.
My buddy Bill and I still talk about the first game Jon Barry played back in Arco after being traded to the Pistons. He got a standing ovation and patted his heart as he entered the game. We were there. Our other favorite moment was the night we were trying to get standing room only tickets and a cop walks up to us and asks if we are looking for tickets. Uh… Not from a cop!! But he was simply letting us know the box office had tickets available. But it’s still a great story to us.
I saw Chris Webber get his jersey retired. Phil and I were there for Opening Night 2013 after the team was blocked from being sold to Seattle.I got to sit in half a dozen luxury boxes and even got to shoot a half court shot to win a truck one night. I hit the rim and until the very end, I thought I’d made it. After you miss, they let you shoot a three point shot for $300 towards that new truck. I made the shot (because, please. I’m awesome), but I liked my car, so that was $300 wasted. I have pins and t-shirts from at least 10 opening nights. I saw Pearl Jam, Toby Keith, and Jim Rome inside those walls. My oldest daughter saw her first game at Arco. And both my daughters saw two Disney on Ice shows.
Saturday night was an amazing way to close the building. So many players I cheered for walked through the doors one final time. And to top it off, a huge win. It was perfect. I couldn’t have picked a better way to say goodbye. For all the wins, for all the losses. For the ones I was there for and the ones I wasn’t. The joys and the heartbreak, there is no place like Arco Arena.
You don’t think the players care about moving out the worst arena in the NBA? In this town they do. Because it’s Sacramento. We are different. If you’re not from here, you wouldn’t understand.
The Golden 1 Center will open later this year. And it may have wi-fi, seats that work, toilets that flush, and a locker room that’s actually big enough for a basketball team, but it’s just a building. It’s not home.