Sacto can recover from bad arena deal

April 24, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Just last week, the news that the arena deal in Sacramento was dead was all the rage. The Maloof family, owners of the NBA Sacramento Kings, backed out of a handshake deal with the City of Sacramento and the NBA, citing questionable financing and revenue projections.

That was a smart decision. Now it’s time to create something on the ugly old rail yard land to benefit the region, as well as draw visitors to the tourism-deprived Capitol city.

Since taking office in 2009, Mayor Kevin Johnson has made no secret of his desire to see Sacramento grow into a “world class city.” While I’ve been a critic of relying on the Sacramento Kings to do this, transforming Sacramento into a destination city is not out-of line. But using basketball to achieve this is dumb and short-sited. And there’s mountains of evidence proving why arenas are money pits.

I’ve also been critical of the “if you build it, they will come” mentality, which public officials seem to love, while spending other people’s money. It doesn’t work.

Sacramento’s Great Park Plan

However, developing city spaces which benefit lots of different people does work. Sacramento’s unsightly 240 acre rail yard could be transformed into a huge, multi-faceted regional park, with an amphitheater, farmers market, agricultural displays, rose garden, soccer fields, ball diamonds, tennis courts, a running track, and playground and exercise equipment.

The Sacramento Zoo, which wants to expand from its current 14-acre home, could be moved to a great rail yard park, or an additional, larger zoo could be built in addition to the small zoo in William Land Park. The Sacramento Zoological Society apparently has the funds for an expansion, but city residents don’t want to give up Fairytale Town, the Land Park Golf Course, the Land Park Pony Rides, or Funderland Amusement Park for a zoo expansion in its current location. William Land Park is 160 acres, and works beautifully with many different venues.

Many residents have recommended that the zoo move out to Sutter’s Landing, but they’d be all alone. As park of a great regional park in the rail yard, the zoo would enjoy a similar situation to what they already have with many different nearby venues, but could expand greatly.

An aquarium would be wonderful – all world class cities have aquariums.

UC Davis could create beautiful botanical and wine grape gardens.

Eventually, an entertainment facility could be added. Or not.

Light rail could run to the park, and downtown trolly cars could make regular stops from nearby hotels.

Sacramento officials have been so obsessed with a “world class arena” deal, that they have wasted precious years and resources with classic small town thinking. This is what happens with trying to play in the big leagues–it’s a big hat, no cattle problem.

Arenas don’t bring in more tourist dollars; they just move around existing money. And, arenas usually require heavy subsidies. In Sacramento, taxpayers want nothing to do with subsidizing an arena, which should be an entirely private-sector deal anyway.

Building a great regional park however, could be done through a non-profit organization, and benefit the region’s residents and draw tourists. Sacramento isn’t ever going to be able to compete with coastal cities however we are located in a beautiful region, are on two rivers and the Delta, we have great weather and are able to live outdoors most of the year.

Why wouldn’t Sacramento officials capitalize on our outdoor assets and maximize the expansive region? Fortunately, we don’t have the California Coastal Commission to deal with.

Bad Arena deal

Even with no backup plan, Sacramento officials and interested parties have continued to push putting $255 public revenues into building an arena, even while suffering under what many say is a $60 million city deficit, cuts to public safety, city services, and an economically devastated downtown, and blighted K Street Mall.

If a great regional park was developed on the edge of downtown, businesses would have many different reasons to move downtown. Residents would have a reason to go downtown again, instead of avoiding it because of the roving bands of crazy homeless people, aggressive parking enforcement, crime, and spotty businesses and restaurants.

City leaders can help

There are so many things which the city could do for downtown if officials would just get the short-sighted, bad arena out of their heads, and start building Sacramento back up by getting out of the way of real job creators:

*cut taxes and get rid of putative business licenses and permits in order to encourage businesses come downtown;

*quit relying on parking enforcement for revenues. If businesses were welcomed instead of penalized for being downtown, revenues would be abundant;

*leave the Maloofs alone and let them run their own business–government involvement is usually the kiss of death anyway;

*open up to ideas about developing the land along the rivers, as well as the rail yard. Again, keep the city out of the way, except only to help businesses and developers navigate the permitting, licensing, land use, planning and compliance issues.

Government is at its best when there is less of it. The only thing the City of Sacramento can do right at this point, is to stay out of the way of those who have vision. The government’s vision is always about controlling, and not about the private sector thriving. Real world class city leaders will do everything in their power to boost the local economy by allowing the free market to do what it does best.


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  1. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 24 April, 2012, 16:23

    I think the reason Mayor Johnson chose NBA basketball as his pet project is because that’s where his connections are, being a former NBA’er himself. I never see you bring that up, Katy. Why? It seems obvious to me. Why would he expand the zoo, build an aquarium, develop a beautiful arboretum or botannical garden or further develop an urban transporation system when he could cut deals with all his buddies? I am happy for you and the Sacramento citizens that this ill-prepared fiasco waiting to happen got shut down. If I lived there I would send the Maloof family a nice $5 thank-you card. They saved your entire city from a bunch of future problems.

    How about building a nice big arts theater for plays, cozy concerts and symphonies? That usually draws big money too. But maybe that’s not Johnson’s style. If it doesn’t include a basketball hoop it’s not worth the effort.

    Reply this comment
  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 24 April, 2012, 19:14

    Beelzebub – “How about building a nice big arts theater for plays, cozy concerts and symphonies? That usually draws big money too?” Sacramento already has several theaters, concert venues and a symphony, but none of them are big draws. Sacramento is a government city, and the arts venues struggle after 5:00.

    Of course Johnson’s connections are in the NBA – I thought that was obvious.

    We have this huge, unsightly rail yard attached to downtown that needs to be developed. We already have a sports arena. The space needs to be used for something benefitting the city, and surrounding region, and not just build a taxpayer-funded arena.

    So far, Johnson is flunking free-market 1A. Between crony capitalism and taxpayer subsidies, he and the city need to get out of private business and let the private sector do what it does best.

    Katy Grimes

    Reply this comment
  3. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 24 April, 2012, 19:29

    Katy, what got this Johnson fella elected in the first place? Celebrity appeal? What could he do other than catch net from 20 ft? What did his resume look like? I mean how could somebody go from shagging B-balls on the court to the highest city office in Sactown? Am I missing something here? I will wait for your answer but just maybe the citizens of Sactown deserve everything they get plus more!

    Reply this comment
  4. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 24 April, 2012, 20:47

    Johnson was elected because our leftist two-term Mayor, Heather Fargo, was running for a third term. Sacramento would have elected Kermit the Frog at that point. Johnson ran a very good, clean campaign, pro-business, but also pro-working guy, because of his hometown-kid-success story.

    I was all for him.

    However, Johnson-the-Mayor does not resemble Johnson-the-candidate. And yes, Sacramento gets everything we deserve. We can’t even run a Republican in the city – there’s no competition at all with this labor union, public employee government town. Ugh.


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  5. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 24 April, 2012, 22:34

    Sactown should be throwing the party of the century that the NBA money pit fell through………stoopidest, most fraudulent deal that could have been pulled on the poor and middle class who would end up paying for this scam and not see a single game.

    Stadiums are a scam on the poor and middle class. The Giants park on SF was mostly paid for with MLB and Giants money, and even then the City tossed in $70 million and that is the only deal I have seen really where the taxpayers didn’t get hosed….Oh, that and the Patriots new Gillette stadium where the City REFUSED to be rolled and the Patriots built it anyway with THEIR OWN MONEY.

    Reply this comment
  6. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 24 April, 2012, 23:15

    “However, Johnson-the-Mayor does not resemble Johnson-the-candidate”

    As I suspected. The makings of an election in modern USA. The best liar wins. From city mayors to the highest office in the land. Lie your butt off and win at any cost. No consequences. Obama may even scam a 2nd term off it. The art of propoganda and deceit driven by billions in special interest money knows no bounds. It can change sewer water into wine before our very eyes. We are living in an age of master manipulation of the masses. Quite a spectacle to behold!

    Reply this comment
  7. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 24 April, 2012, 23:23

    “Stadiums are a scam on the poor and middle class”

    LA is in the beginning process of building a multi-billion dollar stadium, rex. It is being marketed as 100% privately financed. heh. History tells us there is no such animal. The gullible bagholders (taxpayers)are watching with eyes wide open. It is just like with high-speed rail. They have to lie up front to get your support. Then once the wheels start turning the puppet masters begin to say “we never saw this coming” and “it’s too late to turn back now”. The classic bait and switch scam. This is the new way of doing business. If a private business owner pulled that crap he’s be standing before a judge answering to fraud charges.

    Reply this comment
  8. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 25 April, 2012, 06:18

    FYI – the LA Stadium took an act of the Legislature to get the ball rolling – a bill was shoved through without much scrutiny or light-of-day allowing the LA stadium to bypass CEQA laws to get underway.

    And you are right – don’t believe for one moment that this will be entirely privately financed – your city council will be throwing in some big $$ in no time. Why would a team owner dig too deeply in his pocket, and go to the trouble of getting major investors, when the city council will so willingly fork over millions, bypass laws, regulations and permits, to get the think built?

    Seattle is in the process of building a brand new stadium – the old one wasn’t very old at all. And another stadium in the south was just imploded to make way for a new one – and it was only 22 years old.


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  9. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 25 April, 2012, 10:42

    They will never get my business, Katy. I haven’t spent a dime in the last 25 years to go watch the genetic misfits play a game. Not only do I despise how these athletes and owners play the taxpayer like a cheap fiddle – I can’t stomach seeing the Hollyweird pigs in the front row seats. You know, the ones who are instant experts on all the social issues and pending legislation. Screw them all. The big organizations like the Lakers have fully and openly supported tax hike proposals in the past. And I assume they are ‘all in’ on the tax hikes on the Nov ballot too. Since they are all multi-millionaires it must present a huge internal conflict. I will try and dig up the facts on that one. But when the little people are being targeted with new taxes these clown athletes ALWAYS side with city hall. ALWAYS!

    The city of Seattle is a liberal haven that loves to spend other people’s money. They are liberal until a cop shoots an innocent homeless man – then they turn conservative. Seattle is a beautiful city – it’s a shame that communists run it.

    Reply this comment
  10. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 25 April, 2012, 12:06

    Think I’m kidding about Seattle? Watch this. An old friendly (by all accounts) native american wood carver by trade (seen here using the cross walk) was carving a piece of wood with a small knife minding his own damn business. Listen to the trigger happy cop fill him with lead and end his life. @ 1:15 on the tape you can hear a woman witness scream from a passing car “Why did you shoot him? He wasn’t doing anything!” Afterwards it was determined that the blade of the knife was actually CLOSED as it lay next to the deceased man on the sidewalk. The man did not threaten the cop. He simply turned in the direction of the cop when the cop screamed at him like any normal person would do. Plus the decedent was wearing headphones at the time. This cop left the force (probably working for another one now) but was not charged with a crime. So the liberal Seattleites love to grab the taxpayer’s money and fund police departments and DA offices that refuse to charge cops when they gun down innocent harmless old men in cold blood on the streets in daylight hours!!! 🙁

    Reply this comment
  11. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 25 April, 2012, 19:25

    That cop should have been prosecuted for manslaughter. The old homeless native american guy never threatened him. The old man didn’t have a chance. He was hard of hearing too. He was an old harmless alcoholic who was well liked by everyone. He was fing executed in broad daylight. That’s why SPD cut the cop loose. At first they tried to cover for him. But as the witnesses came forward they couldn’t hide the evidence. Even the Chief Police said it was a bad shoot after a couple weeks went by. This kind of crap boils my blood. If you want to be a cop….fine. If you want the gun and the badge and the power to control people….fine. But G’damit. If you shoot an innocent old man in cold blood without justification you should go to a place where they would have to pipe sunlight into you. Had I been up there and witnessed that he might have had to shoot me too. I just don’t know whether I would have been able to hold my emotions in check since I have never been in a situation like that.

    Reply this comment
  12. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 27 April, 2012, 10:02

    Whenever I watch a replay of that my BP shoots up about 20 pts.

    What a major ahole! 🙁

    Reply this comment
  13. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 27 April, 2012, 11:05

    That is a horrible story. Equally horrible is that cops are practically never found guilty of murder in cases like this, nor do they lose their pensions.

    If this isn’t a clear case of abuse of a badge and police brutality, I don’t know what is.

    Katy Grimes

    Reply this comment
  14. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 27 April, 2012, 19:37

    “If this isn’t a clear case of abuse of a badge and police brutality, I don’t know what is”

    It’s much more than that, Katy. It was negligent and unjustifiable homicide. Like I said, Seattle is a very liberal city that emphasizes civil rights. But this travesty clearly pointed out that the relationship between the DA’s office and the cops is no different than what you would find in fascist societies. I bet you a dime to a donut that the killer cop was a nepotism hire. A guy like that should’ve never made it past the psych exam. But the DA is just as guilty as the cop for giving him a big fat pass. All of them have blood on their hands. This is why good citizens have lost all faith in our system. I’ve seen film footage of fascists in Nazi Germany and this is the crap that they pulled and got away with!

    Reply this comment
  15. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 27 April, 2012, 23:24

    @ about 2:41 look at those pigs roll up in their unit and jump out with their hogs drawn like a couple Barney Fife twins. heh. There were already 15 cops on the scene and the poor old man was already turning cold going into rigor mortis on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. The best thing you can do to protect yourselves from these fascist freaks is to stay away from them. If somebody is breaking into my home I’ll be damned if I’ll call ’em. By the time they wiped the glazed sugar off their lips at the donut shop and rolled up to the house I’d probably be dead. That’s why everybody needs to learn how to protect themselves. Calling Barney Fife to save you is like calling up Robert Rizzo for diet advice. Avoid these overpaid Muldoons like the plague. They’ll only bring trouble. And don’t answer their questions. Name and DOB only. Otherwise tell them to pound sand.

    Reply this comment
  16. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 28 April, 2012, 22:45

    The city of Seattle will pay $1.5 million to settle claims brought by the family of John T. Williams, the woodcarver shot to death by police Officer Ian Birk Aug. 30, 2010.

    Read more:

    Beelz, who do you think is going to pay this $1.5 MILLION??? GED Cop Birk??? A 4 year military recruit that was too stoopid to get a real job in the real world? Nope, the taxpayers. There is NO accountability in gov.

    Reply this comment
  17. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 28 April, 2012, 22:48

    Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer called many of Birk’s actions “egregious.” Other police brass said Birk was right to make contact with Williams that day, but said that the young officer should have called for backup, didn’t properly assess the risks and shouldn’t have used deadly force.

    Yes, using deadly force and killing someone who was not a threat is “egregious”, and if it were you or me or anyone in the real world there would be murder charges pending. Ask George Zimmerman.

    Reply this comment
  18. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 29 April, 2012, 08:13

    “Beelz, who do you think is going to pay this $1.5 MILLION??? GED Cop Birk??? A 4 year military recruit that was too stoopid to get a real job in the real world? Nope, the taxpayers. There is NO accountability in gov.”

    If the public tolerates this crap they will tolerate most anything. There should be mass protests outside the DA’s office 24/7 until he files homicide charges. Where’s Sharpton and Jackson, btw? Whoops! Wrong color. This man was just a native american so the cops get a big pass! And when family members sue they’ll be lucky to get $500,000 since Mr. Williams was not a considered a ‘valued’ member of society and had no real source of income other than through his little wood carving business. “Value” in this society depends on how much money you have. You can see ‘ahole’ written all over that cop’s face as he walked past the dashcam with his gun drawn. Bloodthirsty. Like a buzzard, he was looking for prey.

    Reply this comment
  19. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 29 April, 2012, 08:24

    “Yes, using deadly force and killing someone who was not a threat is “egregious”, and if it were you or me or anyone in the real world there would be murder charges pending. Ask George Zimmerman”

    Oh, without a doubt, rex. GZ was pinned to the ground and getting the k-puck beaten out of him and they still charged with 2nd degree. If you read the details of this pig shooting THE BLADE OF THE KNIFE FOUND NEXT TO JOHN T. WILLIAM’S DEAD BODY WAS CLOSED. How the F can you be a threat to someone with a blade of the knife in a retracted position??? This was an execution on a city street during daylight hours that went without any judicial punishment. I bet a dime to a donut that this cop is either working for a new cop agency today – or his brothers in blue found him a good paying job after he departed the PD. They circle the wagons for these pigs. Just like the cops and police union in Fullerton circled the wagons for the pigs who beat Kelly Thomas to a bloody pulp and murdered him. They are paying for their legal council and providing free security.

    Reply this comment
  20. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 29 April, 2012, 10:00

    Also, if you read the details of the pig homicide you would see that one bullet entered John William’s right cheek (on his face) and exited his left cheek. So Williams wasn’t even facing him when he was shot dead. And if you note, the cop did not warn Williams that he would shoot him. The only command was ‘put down the knife’. He didn’t even identify himself as a cop. And, according to testimony at the police hearing, the pig kept moving closer and closer to Williams. Why would you move closer and closer to a man who had a knife in his hand? This stinks of murder. And the pig walked away scot free.

    Reply this comment

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