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Volume 22 No. 35
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Plugged In: Juan Rodriguez, Sacramento Kings

Juan Rodriguez joined the Sacramento Kings in September 2014 to run Sleep Train Arena and lead the transition to Golden 1 Center, the team’s new $557 million arena. He is general manager and senior vice president of arena operations. Over the course of his 23 years as a facility operator, Rodriguez has been a part of opening seven facilities, including BB&T Center, NRG Stadium, Bridgestone Arena and McLane Stadium. Golden 1 Center’s first regular-season NBA game is Thursday when the Kings host San Antonio. In early October, former Beatle Paul McCartney christened the arena with two sold-out shows.

            This is the first time in 30 years that someone in Sacramento sits in a padded seat.


On McCartney’s shoutout: Paul said he was playing the most eco-friendly building in the world. Him saying that on stage was pretty special.

What it means for Golden 1 Center as the big leagues’ first LEED Platinum venue: We’re blessed to say nobody can take that [recognition] away. Those are things that sometimes, in years past, teams looked at it as an expense. Now, it’s looked upon, not only as a necessity, but a responsibility of what we need to do … in the world we live today.

How arena design has changed over the past 25 years: You’re competing for X amount of discretionary dollars. Years ago, facilities were designed and built for sporting events. Today, it’s truly an entertainment center, whether it’s sports, family shows, concerts, trade shows, conventions. We met with our season-ticket holders and community groups to find out what this building needs to be. It’s authentic to Sacramento.

On whether Golden 1 Center will be as intimidating as its predecessor, which became one of the NBA’s loudest venues: The old buildings [had seating bowls] built wide. Today’s arenas and stadiums are [more vertical]. Our guests and fans are closer to the game than they’ve ever been. It’s a more intimate environment. Our lower bowl is the largest in the NBA so you have more people closer to the court. That home-court advantage should not go away, and that feeling of keeping people as close to the game as possible.

On mixed-use development outside the downtown arena: It’s a true revitalization. That word is used often, and sometimes people don’t see it. My definition of progress is always how many cranes are up in the air. It’s all being done because of the arena.

— Don Muret