Vivek Ranadivé, owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings NBA team, dropped by Pollstar Live! Feb. 11 to have a chat about all kinds of things – from his childhood in India to his daughter's basketball team to building an entertainment campus larger than L.A. Live.


Photo: Barry Brecheisen

Pollstar Live! Keynote - Vivek Ranadive

Ranadivé spoke with Scott Moak, the “voice of the Kings,” aka the public address announcer for Kings games. Ranadivé, whose history begins with a dream to attend MIT while a child in the Juhu area of Bombay, is leading the effort to built the most technologically advanced arena in the world and to make it “future proofed.”

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Along the way, Ranadive came to America with $50 in his pocket, attended MIT, earned an MBA from Harvard, founded Teknekron, which digitized Wall Street, and owned the Golden State Warriors. He sold off his interest in the Warriors to come to Sacramento and rebuild the Kings basketball team, which is not only in dire need of some wins but also a new place to play.

Sleep Train Arena, which opened in 1988 as Arco Arena, was built for rock-bottom price of $40 million and, although acts like Garth Brooks love its cacophonous interior, still has the original wooden stands and stairways from when the Kings moved from Kansas City.

The fans had an unloving relationship with the Maloof brothers that owned the team before Ranadivé and his partners took over and the city is now looking at having the Golden 1 Center open in the heart of downtown, near the Sacramento Delta and walking distance from the charming “old town Sacramento” district. It's likely that Sacramento won't know what hit it when the arena opens. Ranadivé listed just some of the facility's features, not the least one being the only “indoor/outdoor” arena in the league.

To be clear, the arena will have panels, designed by Space X, that can drop and allow the breeze from the Delta to roll through the arena. There will be permanent hologram technology built into the facility as well as virtual reality technology so that fans in India can watch the basketball games from their headsets.

The arena will also be 100 percent solar-powered. Even the lobby bars will have countertops that double as wireless phone chargers.

“You shouldn't check into the arena, it should check into you,” Ranadivé said. “It should recognize you, direct you to your seat.”

Ranadivé believes that we are living in “Civilization 3.0,” a world where a city is no longer the just physical survival space for a community but its entertainment hub. The Golden 1 Center is supposed to be an experience that begins before the fan leaves home. It will help the fan find the best route to the arena and where to park. “It's going to be a frictionless, painless experience,” he said. “There are 100,000 people within walking distance that can come to the arena.”The arena can accommodate 18,000 people inside for a performance and 8,000 outside. A performer can play inside the arena then visit the outside as well, amplified by the facility's gigantic video screen. There will be a recording studio “if Beyoncé wants to lay down some tracks.”

The hologram technology can be used “if Taylor Swift wants to play a song with Michael Jackson.” David Kelly, one of the masterminds of the iPhone, applied his thoughts to the load-in area. The arena touts full WiFi connectivity and unprecedented networking capability. “There won't be a second-best anytime soon,” Ranadivé said. “It will be a long time before someone can come in and one-up it.”