SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sleep Train Arena is opening back up for business.
The shuttered long-time home of the Sacramento Kings will be taking in convention business, while the downtown convention center undergoes new construction.
City leaders call it a temporary solution to keep valuable convention clients from leaving town.
The last event at Sleep Train Arena was nearly a year ago when Sacramento State held a graduation ceremony.
The once-proud Kings fan’s 6th Man statue now sits rusted on a dirt patch where grass once grew. Bushes have turned brown. Trees lining the ticket booth have died.
But the arena is ready to open again, for a limited time.
Video from one of our last looks inside Sleep Train Arena showed season-ticket holders driving in to pick up dismantled seats for memorabilia.
Sacramento Convention Center Project Manager Desmond Parrington is helping lead the temporary Sleep Train Arena revival, to host conventions.
“Is it all set up to host an NBA game? No, it’s not,” Parrington said. “But it’s a good venue for this type of event.”
When the Kings left Sleep Train Arena for the Golden 1 Center, the city of Sacramento invested $255 million into the new arena and negotiated a non-compete clause with the Kings between the buildings.
“We did not want to have a situation where Sleep Train could be hosting events that could be hosted at the Golden 1 Center,” Parrington said.
Now the city wants that clause waived to accommodate clients being displaced while the downtown convention center undergoes construction.
One of those groups, the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has 5,500 people. They’ve agreed to use Sleep Tain Arena instead on 16 weekends. The city says their business has a $28 million economic impact.
It’s just what the nearby restaurant Malabar has needed since the Kings moved away.
“With it just sitting there being empty we’re losing a lot of money and a lot of business, so 16 weekends out of the year sounds great to me,” Malabar manager Eric Mask said.
This storied Sacramento arena, suddenly ready for one more chapter.
The Kings and city staff have reached agreement on this plan and the council votes on it next week. It can be voided if the Kings reach a deal on a permanent development plan for this site.