The new Golden One Center opened earlier this month. The arena, with costs of $556 million and rising has hosted a Kings exhibition game, two Paul McCartney concerts, a WWE event and a Maroon 5 concert last night. The spectacular, state of the art arena, is not without it’s flaws though.
Let’s start with the positives. The outside of the arena itself is unlike any other arena. The architectural design is stunning. There is a large courtyard area with benches in a semi park like setting. It will encourage people to arrive early and stay late to mingle. At the old arena, as soon as an event was over, patrons would exit through one of four exits and head to the parking lot that had become an eyesore over the year. The new arena has one major entrance and exit area. The doors above the entrance can be open if the weather outside is nice. As soon as you walk through the entry way, you can see the huge scoreboard and the court below. Everything is more open than the old arena. There are food stands as soon as you walk in and in some place you can still see the game while standing in line.
The food theme at the arena is farm to fork, with many locally knows restaurant, Cafe Bernardo, Selland’s, Paragary’s, Centros, Mikuni’s, Petra, Mulvaney’s and more. It’s not your traditional arena food. The prices are in line with what would be expected at an arena. Raley’s has two locations that sell some grab and go foods like salads, wraps and sandwiches.
The arena has two main levels with dining on both. The upper level has slightly less options for dining, but does have a large bar area sponsored by Sierra Nevada that is open to the arena floor. The area gets very crowded for events. Visitors can stay after the game, hang around and not feel rushed to leave.
Thus far traffic doesn’t seem to be an issue and neither is parking if you plan ahead. There is an app called Parking Panda and you can use it to reserve the garages for any event. We have used one at 7th and J, which is one block from the arena and there were no issues getting in and out. After the events we have used J street to get to Highway 99. Traffic seemed more backed up trying to get to Interstate 5.
Now some of the negatives. The bathrooms are smaller. there’s more of them but they are smaller with less stalls. Not sure on the women’s restrooms. There is almost no dessert. One kiosk sells root beer floats. The other locations sell a small assortment of candy, but there is no ice cream. Surprising that there isn’t something like Leatherby’s, Dreyers or something similar to sell sell ice cream.
The seating is another issue. At the old arena, there were 7000 seats on the lower level and 10,000 on the upper level according to one of the Golden One Center ushers. The new arena is reversed with 10,000 in the lower level. The upper level is smaller, with seats closer to the court. The downside is it is steeper. Some people that are afraid of heights have had some issues. The stairs are steep. There is now less leg room in the upper level. At the old arena, if you were sitting down, you could turn to the side and people could pass by you, between you and the sit below. Now that is much harder. If people stand up, it is not an issue. We attended the Maroon 5 concert last night and trying to walk by with people still seated was very difficult. Their feet were in the way and it would be very easy to trip. We had to pass by 4 women who chose not to stand and I stepped on numerous feet trying to get by. Everyone should stand to allow others to pass. The other issue, and this happened at the Paul McCartney concert, is the seats in front of you are now lower, which makes it easier to fall into the row in front of you. One concert goer fell onto an elderly couple injuring both of them. In the old arena, the seat in front of you was a little higher and made it less likely to fall into the row in front.
There are other issues with the upper level seating. The seat itself is actually lower and you are sitting below knee level. I am 5’9″ and my knees were sore during the concert. If you are over 6 feet tall, it will be more uncomfortable. My brother in law is 6’4″ and he had to get up and go sit somewhere else because it was so uncomfortable. Couple the lower seat level with less leg room and it is less comfortable. One of the biggest complaints is no cupholders upstairs. That proved to be an issue for our family at the concert last night. We ordered 3 sodas in the plastic bottles. Apparently Maroon 5 doesn’t want bottles sold in the arena because people throw the caps and the bottles onto the stage. If you ordered a water or soda, they would pour it into a cup. Once we got to our seats, two of the three sodas spilled in 5 minutes. With less leg room and no cupholders, there is just not much room for a cup. At the Kings games you can get the bottles and I would advise that over getting a fountain cup. The lower level seats do have cup holders.
Overall it is a beautiful arena and a welcome addition to the area. Everything is so bright inside, there is no comparison to the old arena. The scoreboard is incredible. The arena is definitely worth checking out. If you’re a tall or larger person, the upper level seating might not comfortable. If you do go, please stand up when people try to get by.