Sacramento Celebrates As City Council Approves Kings' Downtown Arena Plan
The Sacramento City Council last night "amid a festive atmosphere" at City Hall voted to "approve the construction of a new downtown arena for the Kings, ending years of effort and angst," according to a front-page piece by Lillis, Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The 7-2 vote "came after more than four hours of impassioned public testimony and deliberation" by the City Council. An "overflow crowd inside the Council chambers erupted into cheers of 'Sacramento' when the vote was tallied." Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive addressed the crowd after the vote, saying, "You have our promise that we’re going to be unrelenting in our pursuit of excellence in creating the world’s greatest arena." The $477M arena includes a city contribution of $255M and $222M from the Kings. Attorney Patrick Soluri, who has filed a lawsuit challenging the arena plan, said that a PAC was "being formed to seek a referendum on the City Council’s vote." City officials said that the committee would "need to collect roughly 12,900 signatures from registered city voters within 60 calendar days" from today to force a public vote on the plan. Jim Cathcart, one of the leaders of a campaign that sought a public vote on city subsidies to sports facilities last year, said that a "group of 12 downtown residents planned to file a legal challenge to the arena’s environmental report." Kings President Chris Granger said that the team would "begin preparations to demolish Downtown Plaza within the next few days." Demolition is expected to "start in July, with construction of the arena scheduled to begin in November." The arena is "scheduled to be open" by September '16 (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/21). City Council member Steve Hansen "voted for the project but beseeched the Kings ownership group to move quickly on ancillary development, including a hotel, condominiums and 1.5 million square feet of commercial development overall" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/20). Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson after the vote said, "We had our backs against the wall, but we defied the odds. We made a comeback for the ages and in doing so, I feel like we unleashed the very best that Sacramento has to offer" (AP, 5/20).
WORTH THE RISK: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton writes there is "simply no such thing as a risk-free project," but the prospect of "doing nothing was even more frightening and carried an even greater probability for lasting regret." Many arena opponents "try to muddy their position by saying they’re not opposed to keeping the Kings; they are against the 'city subsidy' to build the arena." But the city’s $255M contribution "was the price of getting the deal done, so if you’re against it, you’re against keeping the Kings" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/21).