The Sacramento Kings said Monday they’ll stop charging the state of California rent for using their former arena as a COVID-19 field hospital, but will pocket the $1 million they’ve been paid so far, representatives of the team and the state told The Sacramento Bee.
The new arrangement comes three weeks after The Bee revealed the Kings were charging the state $500,000 a month for a three-month rental of the Natomas facility, despite statements by Gov. Gavin Newsom and Kings chairman Vivek Ranadive in early April that implied the old arena had been lent for free.
As it turned out, the Kings were only donating the team’s former practice facility, located adjacent to Sleep Train, but would be paid for use of the arena itself.
As a field hospital, the Sleep Train site is designed to accommodate 400 beds across the main arena and the practice facility, separating confirmed COVID-19 cases from suspected cases.
Because coronavirus cases haven’t surged as initially feared, the Kings and the state said “the arena will be placed in a warm shutdown status effective the end of May” but could be reopened later if needed. The practice facility is being kept open as a field hospital.
The lease was supposed to conclude at the end of June. In the amended agreement, released to the public Monday, the Kings will get paid for the first two months but will allow free use of the facilities through the end of October.
Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services, and Joelle Terry, spokeswoman for the Kings, confirmed the Kings will keep the $1 million they’ve been paid so far.
“I am grateful to the Kings for their continued partnership. Maintaining this facility allows the state and the region flexibility to safeguard the health and safety of the entire Northern Sacramento Valley,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of Cal OES, in a prepared statement.
The Kings praised Newsom’s “decisive leadership” in slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and added: “Today’s announcement represents the progress we have all made together to flatten the curve. We remain committed to continuing to use our platform for good and to help support the needs of our community.”