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Sacramento Oracle

Sacramento Kings organization and fans say goodbye to 'Old Barn'

Mar 21, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Shaun Holkko, sports editor

ARCO Arena, most recently known as Sleep Train Arena, reverted to its original name for one final day at the "Farewell to ARCO Arena" event on Saturday, March 19 at ARCO Arena in Natomas.

Sacramento Kings organization and fans say goodbye to 'Old Barn' [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

NATOMAS, CA (MPG) - ARCO Arena, Power Balance Pavilion, and Sleep Train Arena are three names that were synonymous with the home of the Sacramento Kings for 28 years.

ARCO Arena officially closed for good Saturday in Natomas, as members of the Kings organization and fans said their final farewells to a building that opened in 1988 and meant so much to the city of Sacramento for so long.

“This is a shining example that in Sacramento there was a time when we were at the top of the basketball world and this is where you had to come to see the ‘Greatest Show on Court,’ so that gives us hope,” said Doug Christie, who played shooting guard in Sacramento from 2000 to 2005. “This building is different than Golden 1 (Center). Golden 1 has things to walk around and see. But here, there was 17,000 people already sitting in their seat. When we came out of that tunnel it was energy, if you didn’t have it, they gave it to you.”

Christie, now an assistant coach with the Kings, Vlade Divac and Brad Miller were the former Kings players in attendance Saturday. Olympic gold medalist Ruthie Bolton made an appearance to represent the Monarchs, the former WNBA team that won a championship for Sacramento in 2005 before disbanding in 2009.

“This was the venue (where) the fans were the soul, and we were the show,” Christie said. “That mix is something that you don’t find. We were white-hot before Miami. We were beautiful basketball before Golden State. The only thing we didn’t do is put a ring on it. I told (Kings’ owner) Vivek (Ranadivé) when we were standing here, ‘It’s gonna happen, it will. And when it does, right on the bottom down there, just put ARCO because that would be so very fitting.’”

Ranadivé, who kept the team from moving out of Sacramento in 2013, and former owner Gregg Lukenbill, who brought the franchise to the 916 in 1985, each spoke Saturday morning about the former home known to many as the “Old Barn.”

“I know this is a bittersweet moment for everyone because there is some amazing memories,” Ranadivé said. “I describe this place as a communal fireplace. The firepit is the arena, the players are the fire, they lit that fire. The fans huddled around that communal fireplace and it’s been an amazing fireplace. So, thanks to all of you for the memories.”

Also in attendance for the farewell were politicians, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby, as well as former Kings coach and broadcaster Jerry Reynolds.

“This is very emotional because there isn’t a Sacramentan who hasn’t been part of this community for decades who doesn’t have incredible memories of experiences here at, I know it’s Sleep Train, ARCO Arena. It’s what it is, ARCO Arena,” Steinberg said. “The memories, even the painful ones, are all good.”

The “Farewell to ARCO Arena” event was open to season ticket holders starting at noon Saturday and to the public from 2-6 P.M. Fans had the opportunity to walk through the old arena, take photos and write farewell messages that will remain on the site. 

The Kings also gave away an abundance of free boxes of team memorabilia like jerseys and signed basketballs that were stored over the years at ARCO, to those who were willing to brave the long line. The event was one last get-together for Kings fans at the place they called home for many years.

It is well documented that Sacramento has struggled for many years on the court, as the current team is 25-48 and close to missing the playoffs for what would be an NBA record 16th consecutive season. However, the Kings’ best years in Sacramento so far were at ARCO, including nine playoff appearances, eight consecutive from 1998 to 2006, and a trip to the 2002 Western Conference Finals. 

In 2013, the arena set a Guinness World Record for loudest indoor sports roar at 126 decibels. 

“I truly appreciate the soul of this building,” Christie said. “I never knew that wood, metal and plastic could make such a sound. But it was a sound that I will never forget.”

Off the court, ARCO hosted concerts, high school and college sports, WWE, MMA, Disney on Ice and so much more.

After fighting for years to keep their team in town, Kings fans were rewarded in 2016 with the Golden 1 Center. Now, the space in Natomas that they once called home will be demolished in the coming months to make way for a new medical center and hospital.

“One of the epic moments of my life was to be able to stand here, and I’ll just repeat what I said, I said, ‘This is your team, and it is here to stay,’" Ranadivé said. “This is a place that has been giving for years and years so I'm really happy that that tradition of giving is going to continue as we open a world-class hospital over here so it’s going to keep giving to the community.

“As bitter as it is, it’s also sweet because we have a beautiful new arena downtown. As great as the past has been, the future is going to be even better.”