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Arena committee kicks off community rallying effort

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Think BIG Sacramento launched an effort Thursday to recruit 1,000 people from Merced to Redding to rally support for a new arena.

The arena campaign committee also announced plans to hold a public design contest for a space adjacent to the new facility as part of that effort.

The committee is asking regional residents and community leaders to help spread information and gather supporters for the drive to build a new sports and entertainment complex, state Senate staffer Greg Hayes, a member of the arena committee, said in a Thursday morning press conference outside the MARRS Building at 1050 20th St.

Later this month, the committee will announce full details of a contest that could enable the winner to design something for an open, public space adjacent to the new arena.

Those who volunteer to rally support will be dubbed "citizen architects" for their role in helping to construct a new arena to replace Power Balance Pavilion, Hayes added.

"It is their support and momentum that has been built that will make this new sports and entertainment complex a reality," he said. "Ultimately, this sports and entertainment complex is, in effect, the civic center for this region – a gathering place for events, meetings and conventions."

During the press conference, Sports 1140 KHTK host "Carmichael Dave" Weiglein, also an arena committee member, applauded the mayor, his staff and the committee for listening to Kings fans’ "grassroots efforts" to support an arena and allowing input from the community.

"These promises are being fulfilled, and the trust that is so difficult sometimes to have between citizens and city leaders that was given out in the last few months – that trust is absolutely being backed up by the actions and also the listening to the counsel of the grassroots efforts," Weiglein said.

The committee created by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson wants to attract a diverse group from throughout the six-county region to be part of the citizens’ initiative. The deadline to apply online is 5 p.m. July 18. People began signing up on the Think BIG Sacramento website before the announcement, said Hayes, communications director for state Sen. Kevin de León.

Kings fans and others have approached Weiglein to ask how they can support a new facility for National Basketball Association games, concerts, ice skating shows and other events. The citizens’ group will be a "fantastic conduit" for people to get involved in a project that will make the area a better place to live, Weiglein said.

"It’s something that just expands on the quality of life in this lovely city, (and) it’s very difficult to put a dollar amount on," he said.

The NBA and the Maloofs, who own a majority share of the Kings, have given the region until March 1 to undertake a serious effort to build a new arena.

Hayes said residents’ most important contribution would be to take part in a design competition, which the committee believes has never been used at another sports or entertainment facility in the country.

Details haven’t been fully worked out. However, the contest will be open to everyone, including residents, architects and artists, when it’s officially announced near the end of July.

The committee will ask participants to design some type of feature in an open space set aside next to the arena. Residents will then vote on three design ideas.

Just what that component will be – public art or something else – will be up to participants, Hayes said.

"This truly must be reflective of what the people in this region decide, because this movement was really born out of the grassroots, and as Dave said, it got the leaders’ attention," he said. 

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