The Stockton Heat may be on the verge of leaving town, but that hasn’t stopped the city from investing in the downtown arena.
At the May 24 Stockton City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved $1.5 million of the city’s $78 million American Rescue Plan Act pot to update the table. board, Stockton Arena’s 17-year-old video and audio technology.
“The current technology in the arena is well beyond its useful life and very close to critical failure,” City Manager Harry Black said at the May 24 council meeting. “It would remedy a lot of things.”
Technology updates would include updating the dashboard and installing ribbon banners for electronic advertising and upgrading the main audio and video equipment. The total cost is estimated at $2.5 million. Black said the city would come back later with plans to produce the rest of the money. Arena updates should take at least a year.
Stockton Kings vice president of operations Aaron Morales recalled an incident in which a Stockton Kings game had to be delayed because the scoreboard got stuck halfway up the ceiling.
“From an NBA and G-League perspective, this is unacceptable,” Morales said. “People come away with that kind of experience, that’s what you expect from Stockton – that’s not the vision we want. This is not the representation we want.
The 12,000-seat waterfront arena in Stockton opened in 2005, and the tech inside is still mostly original, older than the first iPhone. About a 30-minute drive away is the Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, which opened in 2016 with state-of-the-art technology.
With the departure of the Heat, the city may look to attract more events to the arena. Jason Perry, general manager of ASM Global, the company that manages the city’s public venues, said having a high-definition scoreboard is a requirement for soliciting NCAA events.
It’s official:Stockton Heat move to Calgary next season
“(For NCAA events) they’re here for a week. You’re talking 1,600 hotel nights,” Perry said. “The tax revenue base that accompanies a certain event will exceed what we actually need to fund it when you look at the economic impact.”
As Mayor Kevin Lincoln highlighted in his State of the City address last week, the city is adding three hotels to the city’s inventory for the first time in 15 years: 102-room Studio 6 at 33 N. Center St. opened in March 2022, the 114-room Hampton at 3651 Arch Road will open in fall 2022, and the 141-room dual-branded Fairfield Inn and Suites and TownePlace Suites hotel is expected to open in the coming months .
Professional Bull Riding events are popular at the Golden 1 Center, and Perry said about 30% of attendees at Sacramento’s 17,600-seat arena are from San Joaquin County.
“We know it’s going to be a slam dunk here,” Perry said. “This is part of the technology that we need to be able as a business to actively recruit these events into the town of Stockton to fill restaurants, fill car parks and bring Stockton to life in the town centre.”
City expects the Heat’s departure from Stockton to be budget-neutral. The city’s projected operating costs for the arena in fiscal year 2021-22 are $4.5 million, more than triple the cost of any other public venue in the city. Stockton will no longer have to pay the utility costs of producing and maintaining ice for 8 months of the year, which includes maintaining proper temperatures in the arena.
Black said the Heat knew the city intended to make improvements to the arena and he believes the team’s decision to move to Calgary was not about Stockton, but about a trend in professional hockey.
“I think professional hockey is kind of behind, like what major league baseball did in the mid-2000s, they consolidated, they brought their teams closer to home,” Black said. “Two and a half years of not being able to operate as a business like this should operate creates problems. Canada has been very strict on the border in regards to the pandemic…an excellent trading partner, they have done a lot of good and we wish them the best.
Record reporter Ben Irwin covers Stockton and San Joaquin county government. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @B1rwin. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.