The Arco Experience – Home of the Kings a valued advantage, quite the night out
SACRAMENTO – ARCO Arena is a fan favorite. And for its chief resident, the Sacramento Kings, the fans that fill its 17,317 seats help make the Kings a favorite each time they take to the ARCO floor.
But it’s more than just the usual home-court advantage and the home fans that give the Kings the distinct edge at ARCO. That isn’t sufficient to explain the electric atmosphere experienced inside the arena on each game-night.
Going from city to city across the United States, and into Canada for that matter, fans can be heard shouting the praises of their respective arenas.
But ARCO is different from nearly everywhere else in the NBA. The Kings, being the only show in town, would likely sell out to a 20,000-seat venue.
“It is unique compared to any other building in the NBA,” former Kings coach and current TV colorman Jerry Reynolds said Tuesday before the game against the Nuggets. “This building was made for basketball (in 1988). It’s one of just a few in the league, like the Delta Center or Conseco Fieldhouse. It’s an incredible place, really.”
Like ARCO, the Delta Center serves as center stage in the Utah sports scene, as the Jazz is the only professional game in town.
Before the Kings had even made a name for themselves after their mid-1980s move from Kansas City, they had quickly built a loyal following, selling out every game in each of the first three seasons in Sacramento.
Gary Gerould, the long-time radio voice for the Kings, gave almost all the credit to the fans for making ARCO such a hostile environment for opposing teams.
“The passion of the fans here makes it unique,” Gerould said. “The passion of these people is amazing. This place really is special.
“It’s considered by everyone around the league – and deservedly so – as the toughest place for opponents to come to. This is probably the most intimate setting between fans and players in all of basketball.”
The intimate factor is one that may stir worries after November’s fiasco in Detroit when Piston fans played not-so-friendly hosts to the Indiana Pacers. But according Kings head of security Joe Nolan, Sacramento fans are not only some of the most passionate in the league, they are also some of the most well-behaved.
“We rate at the top of the list in terms of security,” Nolan said. “We’re really good … I’ve never had problems.”
When it comes to ARCO fans, it’s not just the locals and the players who respect them. NBA-wide, they are honored officially, but not with a plaque or a trophy.
“Every season, the NBA polls all of the general managers,” Gerould said. “Far and away, ARCO is always at the top of the list.”
The fans have been rewarded as of late, and rewarded very well. Dating into the late ’90s, the Kings have not failed to reach the playoffs.
And once the postseason rolls around, the electricity of ARCO rises by thousands of volts.
“Obviously, when playoffs start, every arena goes crazy,” Gerould continued. “But here it’s even more so at ARCO. It’s always like the playoffs here. It’s truly incredible.”
The fans are especially appreciated by the Kings themselves.
“I love playing at ARCO every night,” Sacramento’s Mike Bibby said.
For the Nuggets’ second-year star Carmelo Anthony, ARCO is just about the last place he wants to play.
“Yeah,” Anthony said, after his team’s 109-100 loss at ARCO, “I hate it here.”
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