When it comes to a new use for Sleep Train Arena, representatives for the Sacramento Kings said they’re being patient. But not too patient.
At a Wednesday forum, Kings president Chris Granger said the team is responsible for paying millions in inherited bond debt on the 170-acre arena property in North Natomas. So it’s incumbent on the Kings to find money-generating uses for the site.
“We have to move, and we have to move quickly,” he said to about 100 people who attended the forum at Inderkum High School in Natomas on arena reuse. “We don’t have any interest in being landlords.”
But specifics beyond that were limited. Granger, as well as Sacramento city representatives, said what emerges on the site will depend on who steps forward.
Granger said the team and the city are interested in forward-thinking concepts. He added the Kings have already declined potential offers that didn’t meet that standard. Granger didn’t elaborate on those potential offers.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said the emphasis is on economic development that results in high-paying, long-term jobs. Simply turning the site into more residential development, she said as an example, wouldn’t meet that bar.
Granger said in recent months, the team has talked to two or three concepts he described as promising.
The kinds of concepts the team would consider, he said, would fit with and enhance Sacramento’s brand. He cited companies in technology, particularly centered around biotech and clean tech, as in that vein.
With an employment centerpiece, the Kings and the city also want to tie in green space, possibly some residential development and a planned light-rail line extension to the airport.
While the team solicits users, other processes are happening behind the scenes, Granger said. The team is also working with consultants on land-use plans, market studies, environmental studies and related documents to guide site development.
Specifics on timing were scant. Those plans should be formed over the next nine to 12 months, Granger said, drawing some grumbling from attendees, many of them North Natomas residents.
“You have to do the nuts and bolts and blocking and tackling to get to that point,” he said.
Ashby, who was hosting the forum, said at the forum’s outset it was better to re-use the site correctly than quickly. She and other councilmembers and city staff, including new Mayor Darrell Steinberg, said they saw site reuse as a priority for the city going forward, with the Kings’ new arena downtown now open.
After the forum, Granger said he appreciated the input. During a question-and-answer session, a handful of residents said they were hopeful but also fearful good opportunities went elsewhere as they waited.
“We share their interest in doing something that’s impactful,” Granger said.