Demolition on new Sacramento Kings arena in full swing

A look at the demolition work being down for the Sacramento Kings' new arena. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

At the corner of 5th and L in Downtown Sacramento sits a massive pile of twisted metal and broken concrete.  In the background, there’s a building missing an exterior wall.  Inside, wires hang from what used to be a drop down ceiling.  It looks like a bomb exploded here or maybe a summer tornado touched down, not a vacated shopping mall being disassembled piece by piece.

The Downtown Plaza demolition is going as scheduled.  By the end of October, the mall will be completely wiped from the Sacramento landscape, but the memory of what used to be has already dissipated from most Sacramentans minds.

“We’re on schedule and doing very well,” Turner Construction project manager Gary Ralls said. “Things are going as planned.”

This is no longer an outdoor mall with little foot traffic and empty store fronts.  It is the new home of a $477-million entertainment and sports complex that will house the Sacramento Kings for the next 35-plus years.  And it marks the beginning of a complete revitalization of the city’s core.

On Thursday afternoon, Ralls along with Lorenzo Butler, the Sacramento Kings Director of Public Relations, took us for a tour of the open job site.  We were handed white hard hats, bright-yellow vests and safety goggles before being led through the maze of excavators and makeshift barriers.

Finished in 1993, the Plaza was long overdue for a facelift, but this is different.  Gone are the stucco arches and the C-court rotunda will soon be sitting in a scrap heap somewhere.  The food court area is still open for business, as is Macy’s and a new Sacramento Kings team store.  But the heart of the mall has the look of a war zone.

Deemed a true public/private partnership, the new downtown arena will open in October 2016, just in time for the 2016-17 NBA season.  You can view a running clock that counts down the seconds to opening night on  Just 771 days until grand opening!

According to the Sacramento Kings, it will be a technological wonder and the next generation of professional arenas.  But for today, there are day-to-day construction concerns that need addressing.

What little opposition remaining to the project has focused on the minutiae.  California is in a drought and construction projects requires the use of water.  But Turner is doing their part to conserve the precious resource in the building process.

“We’re actually using less than we thought we would,” Ralls said.  “I think we projected that we’d use around 30,000 gallons a day and we’re using between 16-22,000 gallons a day.  We are monitoring that closely. Part of our mitigation with air quality is that we wet down all the debris to keep down the dust and so it’s a necessary evil we have to do.”

Fire hoses are running non-stop trying to combat the dust. They are aimed at giant pieces of equipment that are taxed with separating steel from concrete. Giant shredders are running most of the day, breaking down materials that previously made up the interior of the mall.

According to Ralls, as much as 75 percent of the demolished materials will be recycled. Some of them will go back into the project, while portions of the estimated 75-80,000 tons of concrete can be crushed and used for road base or fill.

Contrary to what some opposition feared, traffic is another issue that has been a non-factor early in the demolition cycle.

“We’ve had no issues of traffic,” Ralls said. “In fact, we’ve asked some of the local people we see going in and out of the garages if they have any problems with the traffic and we’ve had no complaints.”

Turner is doing their best to reduce noise levels as well by using insulated sound panels. Inside the construction zone, there was plenty of noise, but outside, it was business as usual for one of Sacramento’s busiest streets.

Ralls refused to give hard timelines for the project, but he said that after demolition, we should expect steel to begin rising from the site next February or March.

Once considered a pipe dream, the new Sacramento Kings arena is well on its way.  The exterior walls to the building that formally housed the Men’s Macy’s Store will come down sometime in the next week or two.  Like the other buildings in the mall, it will have to come down brick by brick.

This tour of the site was the first of many.  The Sacramento Kings appear ready to keep the media informed throughout the building process.


James Ham

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