Earlier this month it was announced that the former home of the Sacramento Kings is going to be turned into a hospital. The building that was once known as Arco Arena and Sleep Train Arena hosted several events, including memorable playoff series for the Sacramento Kings, World Wrestling Federation Royal Rumble 1993, concerts and even hockey. I was a frequent visitor to this building and have so many memories of it. Yes, it was small and yes it was even falling apart; but it was my home away from home. That short 75-minute drive from my home town of Patterson, I looked forward to attending events.
My first event was a roller hockey game when I was seven. I went with my dad and older brothers and we had a blast. The team was known as Sacramento River Rats and they played a team that traveled from Alaska (imagine traveling that far for roller hockey). They gave us rubber rats to toss on the rink when they scored a goal and I remember anxiously waiting to throw mine. If memory serves me correctly, the Alaskan team won, but I did get to throw that rat.
Watching professional wrestling growing up was my escape from reality. Whenever wrestling was on television I was sitting down watching it. When they would come to the area I would try my hardest to attend. When the Royal Rumble was announced that it was coming to Sacramento I could not believe it. I wanted to go in the worst way. It was not in the cards for me to attend but we ordered the pay-per-view and the next time they came to Arco Arena we went. It was amazing. I got to see so many of my favorite wrestlers and was entertained for hours.
For nearly two decades the Sacramento Kings have been lackluster to say the least. It was not always like this, though. In the late ‘90s the franchise made a playoff push and began their road to one of the best franchises of the early 2000’s. The Kings roster was stacked with talent that included Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson, Scot Pollard, Hedo Turkoglu and more. Still to this day my favorite team is the 2002 Kings. My first (of many) Kings games came in 2004 against the Supersonics. I’ll never forget the atmosphere and energy that night. The fans would pack that building and use its size to its advantage and even set the Guinness World Record for loudest sports roar by reaching 126 decibels in 2013.
I will always cherish my memories of the arena and when I drive by I always tell whoever is with me about the fun times I have had there. It will always be Arco Arena to me.
Dennis D. Cruz is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.