James Rasmussen, the current Director of Arena Programming for the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento calls the new Golden 1 Center a “passion project” for himself and his team. This may have something to do with James being a Kings fan.

“The reason I call it a passion project is I grew up about 120 miles north of Sacramento and I’ve been a Kings fan since I was nine years old,” James told Amplify. “So I’ve been coming to our current arena, Sleep Train Arena, since I was nine.”


Sleep Train Arena was one of James’ clients when he worked at Arena Network. He was subsequently hired on at the arena in 2014 to continue programming for them and has been involved with Golden 1 Center since its inception.

While he is betting that the new arena will attract more touring artists, he also hopes that it can also inspire fans and bring the community together. 

“For me, the way I look at it is that we’re building something that will inspire local residents to get involved with the arts,” James said. “I feel like when a kid goes to their first show here and they’re totally blown away by what they’re seeing, that maybe inspires them to get into music themselves or performing arts, and who knows what could come from that?”

With Sacramento being one of the most diverse cities in the world, James has been working hard to cater to the needs of the city with the shows at the new Golden 1 Center. Currently, there are 15 events booked for the arena’s opening month, including a sold-out Maroon 5 show and Kings pre-season and opening week games.

“We got a lot of good things going on,” James said. “We’ll have classic rock, we’ll have pop, we’ll have WWE, Latin Music, with Maroon 5 and Jimmy Buffet. And we have a couple more to announce.”

Golden 1 Center is set to open this October. Below we ask James to tell us about five shows that shaped his career in music.

Vans Warped Tour in Wheatland, Calif., 2002

This show was my first taste of the backstage life. My sister, Wendy, was the Press Liaison for the tour and hooked me and a couple friends up with backstage passes. I was 17 years old. I felt so cool walking around with a laminate. I’ll never forget being side stage for Sum 41 and looking out at the crowd of teens going nuts. That was probably the show that made me want to get in the live event business.

Foo Fighters at Olympic Medals Plaza, 2002

At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, this was my first of many Foo Fighters shows. My family had driven out to SLC from Red Bluff, CA to watch the men’s mogul ski competition. While standing outside the venue on a bench to see over the fence, a guy walked up to Wendy and I and asked if we wanted to go in. Obviously we did. He asked how much we would pay and I said, “Nothing.” He then handed us two tickets. We got to see the men’s halfpipe snowboard team get presented with their medals (USA swept) and then the Foo Fighters went on around midnight. We made our way to the front row in a sea of 20k people and got on the jumbotron. Truly life changing night. ‘MERICA!

Garth Brooks at Sleep Train Arena, March 28, 2015

This was the second show of our six show run with Garth last year. My parents drove up from San Diego and friends came down from my hometown. It was great to share the experience of my relatively new job with them and 17k other people. This was the first show of a doubleheader that night and my first time working a doubleheader concert. Between shows our team scrambled to clean the arena in time for doors for show #2 and another 17k patient fans – it was all hands on deck regardless of title. I was in a walking boot recovering from a torn Achilles but was still running around grabbing trash bags and cleaning wherever I could. That was a very long exhausting day, but absolutely loved every minute.

Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Tour at Hollywood Palladium, Feb. 10, 2013

This show was after the Grammys — his first live show since 2007, I think. I found out about this show around 7pm and called my friend Caroline to see if she wanted to try and get in. We drove out to the Palladium and began looking for tickets from everyone standing in line. We struck out for about 2 hours. Finally when doors opened and the line started moving the scalpers started their prestigious business. At the onset, we set a budget of $100 for a ticket. If you would have told me I would pay $170 to see Justin Timberlake before that day, I would have told you that you were full of it. It was worth every penny. I then went on to see the 20/20 tour four more times (thank you JoAnn Armstong, Steve Kirsner, Tina Suca and Ryan Klutsarits).

TBA at Golden 1 Center, October 2016

The first show at my new arena. This show has yet to happen but its all I think about these days. This will undoubtedly be the show highlight of my life. I can’t wait to feel the energy of the crowd as they come in the doors, the first cheers when the band hits the stage, the first encore and the buzz as they leave the building. Sacramento is getting the best arena in the world and I can’t wait to see the payout for the long hours and days our team is putting into this passion project of ours. I also can’t wait to announce who it is so I can stop deflecting the question “Who is opening the building?”

i gots to know

(Just for you Dave, I’ll announce it here – its Gallagher.)