SBD/February 8, 2012/Facilities

Funding Talks For New Downtown Sacramento Arena Expected To Intensify

City officials are hoping to raise as much as $200M for the downtown project
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson expects negotiations on the funding plan for a new downtown arena for the NBA Kings “to intensify, now that 13 firms have expressed interest in leasing the city's parking operations,” according to Ryan Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Johnson yesterday said that the “city is ‘on track and in striking distance’ of developing a financing plan for the $387 million arena” before the March 1 deadline. City officials are “hoping to raise as much as $200 million for the project from the leasing of downtown parking garages, spaces and enforcement.” City officials plan to “narrow down the list of interested firms to four or five in advance of next week's City Council meeting.” After that, the council “will be asked to issue a request for proposals for formal bids on the parking assets.” The mayor said that he thinks the city "may even exceed the $200 million it hopes to generate out of leasing parking assets.” Johnson said, “We can't be in a better situation than we are right now. There are no red flags or yellow flags right now. We're exceeding our own expectations” (SACBEE.com, 2/8). The City Council “narrowly rejected a request by Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy for a June ballot measure to ask voters if they want to lease public parking assets to help finance a new downtown sports arena.” The council voted “5-4 against the proposal” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/8).

SONIC BOOM
: NBA Commissioner David Stern acknowledged that Seattle “is a ‘great’ destination for the league,” but the potential return of professional basketball to the city "still comes down to two issues that played major roles in the Sonics’ move to Oklahoma City during 2008 -- funding and a new arena.” In Salt Lake City, Brian Smith notes hedge-fund manager Christopher Hansen has been working with Seattle the "past eight months to build a basketball arena south of Safeco Field." Stern said of Hansen, “I think he came in and I met with him, it must be a year ago. Just a general conversation; he was brought in by a mutual friend.” Stern said that he “wasn’t familiar with specifics about Seattle’s latest effort.” Stern: “Everyone says to us, ‘Well, would you consider going back?’ Of course, if they have a building. And so that’s where it’s left. We have no involvement.” He also said that a league “has no plans to add more franchises in the United States.” Thus, the “only way a city could likely acquire a club is by relocation.” Smith notes that a “crucial link in Seattle’s chances of regaining a franchise is tied to Sacramento.” Stern said that there “have been some ‘very positive’ developments in Sacramento’s efforts to retain its franchise.” But he added that the Kings’ future “is still a very fluid situation with no predictable outcome” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/8). Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn yesterday said, “A lot of things have to align for this to work, and I can’t predict whether everything will align or not.” He added, “We have to protect our budget. We’re not necessarily [going to] go out and create some entirely new tax to pay for something. We have to try to figure out how to pay for it in a way that protects for us. If things go well, we’ll be able to go to voters and say, here’s the financing proposal” (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 2/8).
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