SBD/September 9, 2011/Facilities

Sacramento Task Force Unveils Numerous Funding Options For Kings Arena

Mayor Johnson presents funding proposal for downtown NBA Kings arena
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's arena task force Thursday "offered up a smorgasbord of funding options" for a new NBA Kings facility that "includes ticket surcharges, private investment, the sale of city-owned land and -- perhaps most important -- a quasi-privatization of city parking," according to a front page piece by Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Hotels and restaurants near the proposed arena "will likely be asked to tax themselves." Naming rights and luxury suite revenue "would be earmarked for construction costs." There also is the "possibility of drawing in foreign investors under a U.S. government program that offers green cards to those who put money in." But "almost all the details remain to be fleshed out -- from the level of surcharges on arena hot dogs to the amount of rent to be paid" by the Kings. The Sacramento City Council -- and "possibly other area governmental bodies -- will likely be asked to guarantee the bonds that would be sold to fund the project." In addition, it is "not clear what would happen with the $65 million the Kings already owe the city." Johnson said, "We are nowhere near the finish line." But he vowed to have "what we think is the final plan" ready by January, with the arena expected to open in '15. The city's staff is "expected to ask the City Council on Tuesday for a green light to start negotiating a deal that would install" developer David Taylor and ICON Venue Group as "master developers of the arena." Global arena operator AEG is "also in the mix" and could be "called on for an upfront investment in return for the rights to manage the new arena" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/9). In Sacramento, Kelly Johnson noted the NBA and the Kings have "given the city until March to come up with a plan for paying for a new arena to replace the outdated Power Balance Pavilion" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/8). The Kings in a statement Thursday "praised the report and said the team looks forward to continuing to work with the city and other interested parties" (ESPN.com, 9/8).

GIVE IT A SHOT: A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial is written under the header "Cynics Should Give Arena Plan An Honest Look." The editorial: "Whatever the final plan, it will not be an easy sell. When basic services are being slashed, it's understandable that some residents would ask why city money should go into an arena. Yet throughout our history, U.S. cities have invested during the bad times to position themselves to flourish when better times return. The response to the arena proposal shouldn't be: 'Don't do anything, anytime, during a bad economy.' The question should be: Is this a fair deal for all involved?" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/9).
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