Sacramento Kings show off solar array plans for arena rooftop

By Tony Bizjak

tbizjak@sacbee.com

September 14, 2015 04:28 PM

Rendering of Sacramento’s downtown arena, Golden 1 Center, with photovoltaic solar panels on roof. Rendering courtesy of Golden1Center.com
Rendering of Sacramento’s downtown arena, Golden 1 Center, with photovoltaic solar panels on roof. Rendering courtesy of Golden1Center.com

The Sacramento Kings introduced their arena solar power business partner Monday – a Shanghai-based company with local roots – and in the process offered a glimpse into the intricacies of arena economics.

SPI Solar, born in Roseville and now headquartered in China, signed a deal earlier this year to design, build and operate a $2.5 million solar power system atop the Golden 1 Center at Downtown Plaza. The system, featuring 3,300 panels, will provide 15 percent of the arena’s power.

Steve Kircher, SPI Solar’s chief strategy officer, said his company also has “committed a significant amount of capital to help the Kings fund the arena” in addition to the panels.

The Kings, in turn, will pay SPI for power the panels provide, and will offer “signage, on-site marketing space, in-event promotion and video content.” The Kings also will introduce SPI and its solar products to other Kings business partners and investors.

“The Kings have started already introducing us to other (business) partners, so we can all help ourselves,” Kircher said.

Kircher and Kings President Chris Granger declined to discuss further details of the deal. Granger, however, said the solar array represents a step toward achieving an energy-efficient building with LEED Gold certification.

“Overall, this is part of a broader commitment to sustainability,” Granger said.

That effort includes glazing on the exterior panels, which allows the building to have an open feel and allow sunlight in, but reduces heat absorption inside.

The facility also will use ground-up cooling through a “displacement ventilation” system that is more efficient than rooftop air conditioners, Granger said, and will collect and reuse grey water the system produces. The arena also will source 90 percent of its food and beverages from within 150 miles, incorporating the city’s farm-to-fork persona.

SPI Solar has done solar work on the Staples Center sports arena in downtown Los Angeles and built an eight-megawatt solar field at Aerojet in Rancho Cordova.

Kircher, who founded SPI in Roseville and maintains a U.S. headquarters there, said the rooftop array is designed to be visually pleasing in aerial views, such as promotional shots during sports telecasts.

“It’s going to be gorgeous,” Kircher said. “When you see Staples Center presented, you always see the roof as the main photographed opportunity. We think that will happen here, too.”

Granger said the arena project, whose price tag was recently estimated at $507 million, is on track for an October 2016 opening. The building’s side panels have begun to go up. The building is expected to be fully enclosed with a roof and sides by November. Testing is being done for pilings for the hotel tower the Kings plan to build on the north side of the arena plaza.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak