Sacramento's Stadium That Almost Was


Before the future Republic Railyards Stadium, Golden 1 Center, Papa Murphy's Park, or Raley Field, Sacramento nearly built a 53,000 seat multipurpose football and baseball stadium on the same plot of what was then the newly-constructed ARCO Arena.

Today, the graffiti'd remnants of its foundations sit behind a chainlink fence near a lake that floods it every winter. Hardly anyone knows that it's there or remembers why it exists.

Back when local businessman Greg Luckenbill brought the Sacramento Kings to the city, his plans included attracting teams from other major sports to California's capital.

Though he was ultimately unsuccessful in his efforts, Luckenbill spent $16 million on the early stages of construction in the late 1980s according to a 2015 CBS report.

Either Major League Baseball or AAA was reportedly in play, while Luckenbill and the city hoped that Sacramento would become the new home of the Raiders as well.

I visited the site Monday. To get there, you have to park in one of the many strip malls surrounding ARCO (no one calls it Sleep Train), walk across a dirt field, find the hole in the fence, and trek down a steep path of mud.

What was once supposed to be an infield is now a lake with exposed rebar intertwined with overgrown plants.

The inside of the concourse -- the foundations were laid from outfield pole to outfield pole -- is littered with cans: beer, White Claw, and spray paint.

Local artists still come here to leave their mark and their work is quite good in my, untrained, eyes. It's beautiful, in a haunting kind of way. I wouldn't want to go at night.

For Sacramento just have the Kings in the major sports department. In 2023, the Republic will enter MLS.

The city will probably never play host to an MLB or NFL franchise. Maybe NHL, though I don't see it as much of a hockey hotbed.

It is kind of cool, though, that someone once swung for the fences. Even if they ultimately failed.

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