The City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings announced this week that they plan to commission an original sculpture by artist Jeff Koons to be displayed outside the basketball team’s new downtown arena, which is set to open next year.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “the Kings, the city and three team owners will pay $8 million for the art. Another $1.5 million from the Kings and [a] local philanthropist … will commission work from local artists to be displayed at the arena.”
The Bee reports that these installations would be unprecedented:
At a total of $9.5 million, the budget for the art at the arena is by far the largest in the 38-year history of the city’s Art in Public Places Program, which requires developers of public buildings to commit 2 percent of construction costs to public art.
The proposed six-block Kings arena was approved last year, and is just one of many projects in a city where revitalization efforts are causing concern. Next City columnist Rachel Dovey wrote last year, in “Is the Cost of Sacramento’s Downtown Makeover Too High?,” “as officials plan mixed-use projects and developers talk high-rises in the local paper, housing advocates are worried about that second downtown — the one that stands to be displaced.” That “second downtown” has one of the lowest median incomes in Sacramento — $29,000 compared to $50,000 citywide.
Just this week, Dovey reported again on local worries about gentrification in a piece about the city’s streetcar plans.
The city council is scheduled to vote on whether or not to approve Koons’ contract on March 10th.
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.