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The Sacramento Kings Are Building the NBA's Techiest Arena, a '21st Century Coliseum'

The Wi-Fi network will be able to "handle over 500,000 Snapchat posts per second," says the team.

Sacramento Kings

Just over two years ago, former tech CEO and then-Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadivé purchased the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, ending a long tug-of-war that almost resulted in the team’s relocation to Seattle. As part of the deal, Ranadivé promised the NBA he’d build the Kings a new stadium in Sacramento before the 2017 NBA season.

The resulting arena — which Ranadivé says will open this October, a full year ahead of schedule — is slated to be the techiest arena in the league, the NBA equivalent of what the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers opened in Santa Clara, Calif., in late 2014.

At the Golden 1 Center, as the new arena will be called, the technology focus is on connectivity, a serious issue in many stadiums and arenas, especially considering the dense crowds that gather during events. The new Kings arena will have 1,000 Wi-Fi access points for around 17,500 seats, just 20 percent fewer access points than the 49ers have for their near-70,000-seat stadium. Or, as the Kings explained it in a recently released report, “The network can handle over 500,000 Snapchat posts per second.” (Talk about pandering to a millennial audience!)

Ranadivé says that people will be able to order food from their seats through the team’s official app, and there will be beacons located throughout the stadium to ping peoples’ phones with info like where to find the shortest restroom line. Like NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Ranadivé is of the mindset that sports gambling should be legalized one day — having a stadium equipped so people can check in on other games and look up stats and scores will only play to his benefit, he argues.

The “always connected” mindset is the polar opposite of one shared by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban a few years back, who said he wanted fans off their phones to focus on the game. “Whether you like it or not, your kids are using their phones,” Ranadivé said in an interview with Re/code, a day before he planned to discuss the new arena during a panel at CES in Las Vegas.

Kings team President Chris Granger agrees and joked that depriving teens of their smartphones is a rare form of punishment these days: “We have the youngest fan base of all major sports [in the NBA], and they’re connected,” he told Re/code. “You can’t preclude them from that connection.”

It’s worth noting that Ranadivé believes his new arena will be used for much more than just basketball. Ranadivé is calling it a “21st century Coliseum” — a lofty title, sure, but an example of just how important he believes the arena is to California’s capital city. He says that, besides basketball, Sacramento will be a place where every top performer in the country will want to stop.

“We believe that this will be one of the top performing venues not just in the country but in the world,” Ranadivé said. In regard to luring people to Kings games, of which there are 41 per year: “[The tech] just drives more demand for coming to a game. That’s the place to be seen.”

Ranadivé was awarded the Sacramento Kings because he promised to rejuvenate the team’s home base of Sacramento. He’s clearly confident his new arena will do the trick. Come October, it’ll be time to prove it.

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