SBD/August 13, 2014/Facilities

Sacramento Execs Wary About Use Of Public Financing For Soccer Stadium

Sacramento Republic FC hasn't approached the city with a formal stadium plan
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson yesterday said that the city "can 'be good partners' in the effort to construct what is expected to be" a $100M soccer facility for a potential MLS club, but added that the emerging ownership group behind the city’s MLS effort "should not expect a subsidy," according to a front-page piece by Lillis & Kasler of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Johnson said, "I do not have an appetite to provide tax dollars to build a soccer stadium. Can it be built without it? It’s possible. Other cities have privately financed soccer stadiums." Lillis & Kasler report Johnson’s comments "were echoed by City Manager John Shirey and City Treasurer Russ Fehr, both of whom cautioned that the city’s capacity to take on significant new debt is extremely limited." The city is financing more than half the cost of the Kings' new $477M arena. Sacramento "appears to be a serious contender for a team, along with Minneapolis and Las Vegas." Top execs with USL Pro club Sacramento Republic FC "have not approached city leaders with a formal plan for a new stadium." But Republic FC President Warren Smith believes there "is a strong possibility we can privately finance" a stadium. He said that the team "is still in the early stages of exploring financing models, but key revenue streams for the project could include a naming rights deal." Lillis & Kasler note developing a stadium "is seen as the pivotal step in Sacramento’s quest" to join MLS. League execs "are scheduled to visit Sacramento next month to gauge the city’s viability as an expansion market." A focus of that visit "will be on assessing potential stadium sites in Sacramento, with the downtown railyard considered a front-runner for a facility" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/13).

HOLD YOUR HORSES: A SACRAMENTO BEE editorial stated no one is "talking much about how" the new $100M stadium "would be paid for, exactly." While it is "very early in the process, this is a conversation that should happen before we get too carried away." It is "thrilling to think about another professional sport in the region," but the city "can’t rush into an ill-advised financing scheme." Taxpayers are "putting up at least $255 million toward the new downtown arena for the Kings," and there also "are other civic projects that are, if not on the drawing board, at least under discussion -- such as a new performing arts center and an expansion of the Convention Center" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/13).
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