SBD/January 27, 2014/Facilities

Clerk Deals Heavy Blow To Effort To Put NBA Kings' Arena Financing Plan To Public Vote

Sacramento officials said they remain on track for the arena to open in '16
The campaign to force a public vote on a new NBA Kings downtown arena was "dealt a considerable blow Friday, when the city’s top elections official rejected the measure for 'major' legal flaws and ruled it should not appear on the June ballot," according to Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. City Clerk Shirley Concolino "ruled that petitions circulated by Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal contained numerous violations of state and city elections code." Those deficiencies "included the omission of key legal language on the petitions and differences in how nine different versions of the petitions were worded." She said, "I’ve never seen a petition with as many flaws as this one." Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak noted if the measure that STOP proposed passed, it "would likely result in a second vote in November on the city’s plan to contribute" $258M to a planned $448M arena at the Downtown Plaza. City officials said that they "remain on track with the arena," which is scheduled to be completed in '16 (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/25).

SEE YOU IN COURT: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton wrote a judge will "likely decide the question of whether there should be a public vote on the approval of an arena -- and the will of registered voters is a powerful force that no judge will dismiss lightly." It may not matter that the clerk "invalidated enough signatures to disqualify the anti-arena ballot measure campaign on Friday," and it also "may not matter that the anti-arena forces behind the collection of more than 22,000 signatures are -- shall we say -- less than impressive." This despite the fact that "much of the money raised to collect anti-arena signatures came from highly dubious sources" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/26). Also in Sacramento, Dale Kasler wrote the arena fight "remains intense," and it is possible Concolino's decision "could be challenged in court." If the arena project "proceeds, one thing is clear: Its economic success or failure will depend largely on what happens outside the building, and whether bringing the Kings downtown leads to a surge of new restaurants and other business establishments" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/26).
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