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Volume 24 No. 156


The city of Sacramento's "agreement to invest millions of dollars in a downtown arena isn't just about a basketball team or a new building," but would also be one of the "largest land deals in downtown history," according to Lillis & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Plans call for the city to "turn over a dozen-plus parcels" to the NBA Kings' ownership group, which "would emerge as one of the largest property owners in the central city, in control of more than seven square blocks." The deal has "stirred big hopes -- and major questions -- about the future of downtown," including how interested the team's ownership group would be in "building anything in Sacramento, other than an arena, anytime soon." Arena boosters, downtown interest groups and city officials all "acknowledge that the impact might not be felt immediately as the city and team focus on building" the arena at Downtown Plaza. Sacramento City Council member Steve Hansen said that he "wants to discuss with team owners an informal outline for their development plans." He added that he wants to use that "'as a guidepost' to set an agenda for the development, seeking to avoid more years of idleness." Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said that turning "empty lots and dilapidated buildings into modern housing complexes and office space would help the team's owners earn a financial return" on the roughly $500M they spent buying the Kings and are contributing to the new arena (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/11).

SOMETHING SHADY? In Sacramento, Marcos Breton wrote, "Did you hear about the 'secret deal' between the city of Sacramento and the Kings? It's supposedly a backroom, off-the-books, under-the-radar, 'sweetener' that was cooked up secretly between city officials and Kings owners." The deal would "secretly provide hidden subsidies from the city to the Kings for the purpose of secretly making the Kings owners financially whole for 'overpaying' to buy one of the worst franchises in the NBA." Sacramento City Council member Kevin McCarty is the "source of this secret information," and is "potentially undermining the legal position of his own city." A Sacramento Superior Court Judge "could rule that McCarty can be deposed by ... a lawyer suing the city for allegedly concealing details" in the proposed downtown arena deal. McCarty has had a "clear path to standing up and being the most legitimate voice against the city's efforts" to finance the $448M arena with a $258M subsidy. Besides his "'no' votes on the arena, many opportunities afforded McCarty to be a stand-up guy have been followed by a big 'no comment.'” Breton: "Why? Because a stand-up person taking on the arena subsidy would have to oppose business, labor, a majority of the City Council, the Sacramento-based leader of the state Senate and many in the public." The "prospect that McCarty was driven by his opposition to help gin up a lawsuit against the city takes being a political weasel to a whole different level" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/12).

Opponents of the Warriors' proposed arena this past weekend began "gathering signatures for a ballot measure that could block both the waterfront hoops palace and the Giants' planned development across from AT&T Park," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The measure -- put together by "local Sierra Club leaders and others in the 'No Wall on the Waterfront' movement -- would require that any development exceeding height limits go before voters." The physical targets of the proposed June measure "are the Warriors' planned 17,000-seat arena at Piers 30-32, luxury condos and a hotel across the Embarcadero," as well as the Giants' planned high-rises for their main parking lot. The Warriors "have long expected a ballot fight, though they won't say whether they would oppose the Sierra Club initiative." But the Giants "didn't see this fight coming." What the Giants "didn't expect was that their building plans would become ensnared in the arena battle." Team execs will not comment on the proposed June measure, but opposing it "could be risky." After all, "proponents can argue, it simply leaves mega-development decisions in voters' hands." Backers "have only until Feb. 3 to gather the needed 9,702 signatures of registered voters to qualify the measure" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/12).

While the Wilf family, which owns the Vikings, has a "five-year exclusive right" to try to bring an MLS franchise to the team's new stadium, NASL Minnesota United FC Owner Bill McGuire is simultaneously "trying to build support for a separate soccer-only stadium in downtown Minneapolis," according to Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. McGuire already is "getting help" from the Twins -- he has "eyed a site near the Twins’ Target Field -- and Twins president David St. Peter said he would 'never say never' to having Twins officials invest financially in McGuire's plans." Both the Vikings and McGuire "have sidestepped whether a competition is brewing between the two men" over an MLS franchise, but McGuire "has upped the ante" since '12 when he purchased United. The Vikings have said that with construction on the team's stadium underway, the Wilfs "will make bringing in a soccer team a higher priority and are 'very directly connected'" to top MLS execs. But McGuire also has "outlined plans for a 15,000- to 25,000-seat soccer stadium to be built near the Minneapolis Farmers Market, a project that will likely need public money." St. Peter last month attended the MLS Cup with McGuire and United President Nick Rogers, and Rogers also has suggested that United "play some of its upcoming games at Target Field." St. Peter said the Twins are currently only helping McGuire with "some level of counsel" regarding playing in a large outdoor stadium (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/12).