Vivek Ranadive

Vivek Ranadive says Kings' former arena has 'come to life' as hospital

Vivek Ranadive says Kings' former arena has 'come to life' as hospital

Exactly one week ago, the Kings and the state of California announced that the team's former home would be converted into a surge hospital to help patients battling the coronavirus.

On Friday, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive spoke to NBC Sports California's Jim Kozimor about exactly how the two sides were able to put the former Arco Arena/Sleep Train Arena/Power Balance Pavilion to use.

"When the crisis first started, I saw what was happening, and I actually first learned about the crisis when I was in Davos [Switzerland] at the World Economic Forum, and in my conversations with the head of the [National Institutes of Health], I saw fear in his eyes and he said this is way worse than SARS and it can be spread by even asymptomatic people and I knew back then that this was going to be really quite bad," Ranadive said.

"So when the crisis started over here, we reached out to the Governor's office and said 'We have this old arena, and as you start thinking about hospitals and beds, maybe we could put that arena to good use.' And I really believe we have the best Governor in the country and his office acted very quickly, just like a startup company, and low and behold, they said 'Yeah, we could use this.' "

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave his daily press conference from the floor of the arena with Ranadive by his side.

"It was a very proud moment that we were able to stand with the Governor and walk through the arena and then announce that we were going to be able to make it into a surge hospital with about 400 beds," Ranadive told Kozimor. "So here we have this arena that has been such a big part of sports history, it's an iconic structure, it's where LeBron [James] played his first game and there were so many memorable moments against the Lakers, it's just a part of sports history.

"And when we turned the lights off, we thought that was it and now it's come to life again and it's the arena that keeps giving. So now it's going to house hundreds of patients, it's going to help them, so it has come full circle. We thought this arena was dead and it has come to life again, and it's going to help many, many people in the Sacramento area."

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Ten days ago, the Kings launched a new campaign titled "In This Together," a program designed to help the community and fans learn more about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sports week in coronavirus: Kings step up with facilities, donations

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AP

Sports week in coronavirus: Kings step up with facilities, donations

Editor's note: Each Monday during the coronavirus pandemic, Monte Poole will examine the virus within the scope of the sports world.

Though greater Sacramento was creeping toward 500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday afternoon -- a fraction of the total cases in the more heavily populated Bay Area -- the Kings literally are opening their doors to provide assistance.

The former Arco Arena, hard by I-5 and where the Kings played for 28 years, is being converted to a temporary remote hospital in which it is anticipated about 360 beds will be available to coronavirus and trauma care patients, perhaps early next week.

The Kings didn’t stop there. They then donated their former practice facility, adjacent to the arena in the Natomas area of northwest Sacramento, to be utilized as a surge field hospital.

For their next move, the Kings donated $250,000 to community groups that provide food and other essentials to those in the area that have been afflicted. They’ve also pledged to donate 100,000 masks to state and local agencies.

At the behest of Kings CEO Vivek Ranadive, the team’s COO, Matina Kolokotronis, offered the facilities to Gov. Gavin Newson, who accepted almost immediately.

It took a few weeks for the Kings' franchise to confront the crisis, but this is a massive and very welcome contribution.

Wealthy man donates paychecks

As a finely tuned athlete who has earned a quarter-billion dollars, owns an MVP award, two Cy Young awards and is married to one of the world’s most famous models, Justin Verlander already was the envy of millions of men around the world.

Now he’s climbing another rung of respect. The Astros pitcher has pledged to forward every paycheck he receives during MLB’s shutdown toward relief efforts. With all veteran players receiving $4,775 per day, for at least 60 days, the donation comes to almost $300,000.

The donations will go to a different organization each week in the hope of touching healthcare workers, first responders and those jobless as a result of the global pandemic.

Though Verlander is in the first season of a two-year, $66 million extension signed last year, those funds won’t start coming his way until the games begin.

Though the decision did not shield Verlander from the social-media venom directed at the Astros after their sign-stealing scandal was exposed, his cause is bigger than their snark. Besides, his wife, Kate Upton, is there to comfort him.

Sports Humanitarian of the Week: Kubrat Pulev

Unless you’re a native Bulgarian or a devoted fan of boxing, you might not be familiar with Kubrat Pulev. That’s OK. You don’t have to know him to thank him for donating about 25 percent of his estimated $8 million net worth.

There are plenty of worthy candidates for our weekly honor, but “a split-decision” goes to Pulev because his pledge is as unexpected as it is generous. He’s signed to challenge IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, but the original date, June 20 in London, is postponed because of coronavirus.

Pulev, 38, announced over the weekend that he will donate “50 percent” of the money he earns from the fight, whenever it takes place. He is expected to earn roughly $5 million.

“I will give doctors, nurses and hospitals the necessary equipment to deal with this devilish virus,” he told German newspaper Bild.

On the scale of personal sacrifice, Pulev’s pledge blows away those of anyone else to go public.

Big man, bigger money, biggest donation

Steve Ballmer is the wealthiest team owner in American sports. He’s 16th on the global wealth list. So, it’s reasonable and fair that he would make the largest donation from the sports world.

The man who in 2014 bought the Clippers for $2 billion -- and recently purchased the Inglewood Forum property for $400 million cash -- is the first individual to offer an eight-figure donation: $25 million.

He won’t feel the slightest pinch from his donation, but it’s enough to buy a lot of masks, meals and ventilators.

Power brokers unite

Steph Curry and younger brother Seth are among more than 130 sports figures coming together to raise funds through donating various items to be raffled off under the banner “Athletes for Relief.”

The list of figures -- current athletes, retired athletes, coaches, TV personalities etc. -- is growing each day.

The running total stood at $154,000 late Sunday night, with the most valuable item being a football signed by former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski that fetched $41,375.

Million-mask man

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is wealthy enough to have a Boeing 767 jet at his disposal. In an effort to contribute to the cause, he decided to gas it up.

Kraft sent the team plane to China to pick up 1.2 million N95 masks and bring them to Boston to be distributed to health-care workers in Massachusetts and New York.

Kraft and his son, Jonathan, collaborated with Gov. Charlie Baker to cover the costs. They came to the rescue after Baker expressed his frustrations with the federal government essentially stepping in to reroute equipment initially earmarked for Massachusetts.

As happens so often, the Patriots found a way to win.

Among others standing tall

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie donated $1 million to Penn Medicine for Immunology Defense Fund.

International soccer star Neymar pledged a $1 million donation to fight coronavirus in his native Brazil.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Al Horford pledges $500,000 to cities he has represented from college to the NBA, including Atlanta, Boston and Gainesville, Fla.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper and his wife, Kayla, are pledging $500,000 to the relief effort.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, having cleared coronavirus danger zone after testing positive, is donating blood in an effort to aid coronavirus research.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is donating 10,000 N95 masks to the Indiana Department of Health.

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum pledges $170,000 to communities in Portland and Akron-Canton (his home region).

New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole and his wife, Amy, (sister of Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford) are making an undisclosed but “significant” contribution.

Tested positive, in isolation

Former MLB star Jim Edmonds and tennis-player-turned-analyst Patrick McEnroe announced their status via social media.

Sad farewell

Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey died due to the effects of coronavirus. Born without toes on his right foot, he lasted 11 years in the NFL and his 63-yard field goal -- off a special boot -- stood as a record for 43 years. He was 73.

Items compiled through reporting, research and collected from various sources.

Former Kings arena to be converted into coronavirus surge hospital

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USATSI

Former Kings arena to be converted into coronavirus surge hospital

It’s official. The building formerly known as Arco Arena, Sleep Train Arena and Power Balance Pavilion is going to become a surge hospital during the current outbreak of the coronavirus.

“California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services announced plans for the California Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to convert the Natomas arena and practice facility into a surge field hospital to provide critical medical services for coronavirus and trauma care patients,” the team’s press release said on Friday.

Army Corps of Engineer Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite mentioned the possibility of converting Sleep Train into a 360-bed hospital earlier in the week. It now appears that the plan will go into full effect. 

"These days, our state’s soaring spirit is on full display – with Californians from every walk of life standing together, even while staying at home,” Governor Newsom said. “The State of California is working with the Kings to repurpose the team's former home to help treat COVID-19 patients and meet the coming surge in demand for hospital space. This facility, which for decades brought joy to the lives of Californians, will now be in the business of saving lives. I applaud the Kings and all the federal, state and local officials who worked in concert to make it happen.”

In addition to working with the state and federal government on the use of the Natomas property, the Kings also pledged $250,000 to support local community organizations taxed by the current pandemic, as well as 100,000 medical masks to state and city health agencies.

“On behalf of the entire Kings family, our hearts are with all who have been affected by this pandemic,” Sacramento Kings Chairman, CEO and Owner Vivek Ranadivé said via the press release. “California always leads the nation and the world, and we applaud Governor Newsom’s strong and decisive leadership to keep Californians healthy and safe during this crisis. His deft guidance and preparation serve as a shining example for leaders across America. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the medical professionals and frontline workers risking their lives every day and making tremendous sacrifices to protect us and provide essential services. Our deepest thanks go out to all of the local public health experts and elected officials, including Mayor Steinberg and Councilmember Ashby, working to safeguard the community during this unprecedented time.
 
“Our community has always come first, and that is more important now than ever,” Ranadivé added. “The Kings are proud to help by providing additional space to accommodate a predicted surge in patients. We are also donating masks to help keep people healthy, and critical resources to area organizations that are addressing food insecurity and other issues as a result of the coronavirus. I have always been in awe of the resilience and ingenuity of the American people and firmly believe that together, we will defeat this invisible enemy.”

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The Arco property has gone mostly unused since the team moved to Golden 1 Center before the 2015-16 season. The practice facility currently is used by the team's G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, but like the NBA, the G League is on hiatus due to COVID-19. 

All of this is part of the Kings’ “In this together” initiative.

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