Sacramento to flood downtown with lights and cops so Kings fans aren’t afraid of new arena

With the Sacramento Kings‘ new arena set to open in October, where’s that transformation it’s supposed to create for its downtown neighborhood, according to the standard pro-arena-development line? Part of it is coming, but it’s taxpayers who will be paying for it:

Likely beginning this week, the city will install 104 pedestrian-level streetlamps on dimly lit blocks leading to the arena as well as several parts of midtown. The $1.7 million lighting program will supplement added police patrols, new police cameras and volunteer guides who will work the streets around the arena during events.

The hope is to make newcomers to downtown feel safer, and to encourage more people to stick around at bars and restaurants before and after games when the arena opens this fall.

None of this is bad, per se. But the notion that sports venues automatically make people flock to an area takes a bit of a hit when the story becomes “build it, and then build new streetlights and flood the area with police patrols and cameras, and they will come.” The Sacramento Bee report adds that “the arena building itself has been designed to serve as a beacon, with glass walls allowing interior light to spill onto adjoining walkways and streets,” though that’s not going to do much for pedestrians on the 200+ nights a year where nothing’s going on at the arena.

If there’s another concern, it’s that the Bee reports that most of the arrests downtown currently are for drug possession, so this at least raises the specter of Sacramento police doing sweeps of downtown for unapproved citizens who might freak out the basketball-goers. “Revitalization” is a complex, murky concept, one that’s not always easily captured in a “does it look different than before?” snapshot, as much as boosters and journalists alike sometimes like to pretend it can be.


6 comments on “Sacramento to flood downtown with lights and cops so Kings fans aren’t afraid of new arena

  1. Is Alkali Flats scary now? My SO lived at E and 8th for a couple years and we never had an issue other than the homeless dude who liked to use her roomie’s Wrangler for a port-a-pottie. And we walked home drunk at 3am 5 or 6 nights a week. Downtown/midtown Sac used to be a great place for the working poor to live and drink but I fear those days are fading fast.

  2. Why is this a bad thing? ATT Park is a great example as to what can happen to a neighborhood once efforts are made to improve an area. Things like street likes and increased police services are what governments are supposed to do – Infrastructure and protection for law abiding citizens.

    • It’s not a bad thing when looked at in isolation. When viewed in context of what the city has been saying, it is. The city cannot afford to fix pot holes, mow the parks, remove dead trees from parks, fix sprinkler systems in parks, repair streetlights in the neighborhoods, open libraries (unless we add more to our taxes), and more. But, if it has to do with the arena, the money is available.

      Regional Transit is the same way. It cannot afford to provide bus service to neighborhoods, provide overnight service, maintain bus stops, restore cuts, and more. But, it will be supplying late-night, free service every 10 minutes on days when an event occurs at the arena; it can clean stations likely to be used by arena crowd; it can add lights to stations likely to be used by arena crowd; it can subsidize Uber to provide low-cost trips from light rail stations to people’s homes (still a proposal, but likely to pass).

      I would like to know exactly how much this boondoggle is costing the taxpayers of the City of Sacramento – including all of this infrastructure upgrades.

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