SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) —Sacramento’s downtown Entertainment and Sports Center attracted hundreds of people Sunday for the official Cornerstone Ceremony, an important event linking the city's future with its past.
Scores of masons marched en masse to the stone marker – a cornerstone – that's part of an American tradition dating back more than 200 years.
"We will be replicating a ceremony that George Washington actually conducted at the U.S. Capitol," said Russ Charvonia, grand master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of California.
The masons believe the first stone must be perfectly square, level and plumb – or the building itself will cave in.
On Sunday, the Sacramento Kings laid the foundation for a sports complex that will create more than 4,000 permanent jobs and 1.6 million new visitors to downtown Sacramento.
And with a 16-story hotel planned nearby, there’s the prospect of $12 billion in economic activity over the life of the project.
"When you add an arena that will have 150 to 200 event nights a year, plus a hotel, great restaurants, great shops (and) living (and) office space, we really hope we can catalyze new economic development in and around our city core," said Chris Granger, the president of the Sacramento Kings.
That development also includes the downtown railyards and the potential of a new privately financed soccer stadium for the Sacramento Republic FC.
The goal is to revitalize Sacramento's downtown core, making it a place where people want to live, and walk to work.
"There will be a lot of housing," Sacramento City Manager John Shirey said. "So, people will be able to live downtown, maybe walk to work, take advantage of entertainment -- all without having to get into their car."
And in just two years, Sacramento’s hole in the ground at 6th and J streets will be the center of economic development.
"Whoever thought a hole in the ground would look so cool?" Mayor Kevin Johnson said in a written statement. "The entertainment and sports complex has always been so much bigger than basketball. It’s about jobs, economic development, arts and culture and civic pride. We're laying a new foundation, not just for the arena complex, but for the future of downtown Sacramento."
Rufus Johnson, a mason from Alameda, is already excited.
"It’s a money maker," Johnson said. "Because you can’t imagine the amount of money that's going to be won when this building is completely finished."
Sacramento’s futuristic project has strong historical roots. The downtown site is the same location where California's first masons lodge was organized in 1850.