Sacto would financially benefit from downtown arena

May 1, 2013

By Katy Grimes


This unnatural and inexplicable push by Sacramento city officials for a downtown arena is suspicious. Without any explanation, all discussion of the proposed arena at the adjacent old rail yard stopped. Then the local media shifted right along with the city, and never asked why. Instead they started repeating the new mantra for a downtown arena.

The city of Sacramento is the biggest slumlord downtown, through years and years of downtown eminent domain and lowball building purchases. This new downtown arena would serve to conveniently improve the property values of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency-owned properties downtown.

Not only did the local newspaper, television and radio media never ask why the city changed its push for the downtown location instead of the present location outside of the city or the rail yard, now city officials have the local media talking about how much the property value would improve. It’s just gross.

I am not opposed to a sports arena in downtown Sacramento. But I am opposed to the nearly 75 percent public subsidy by the taxpayers of Sacramento. If the developers involved in the arena deal can make a go of a new arena in Sacramento, they should. But it appears this deal can’t stand up to any financial scrutiny without the city of Sacramento bringing the bulk of the money to the table.

What kind of “development” is that? It’s a scam.

“The mayor, himself a former NBA All-Star, has scrambled to assemble a group to buy the team, convince commissioner David Stern to consider a counter offer, and get approval for the financial deal that would build a $448 million arena on the site of a shopping mall — a development many say will revitalize a problem area in its bustling city core,” ESPN said.

The problem area in downtown Sacramento is entirely the fault of the city and their lousy property management. The city is responsible for driving the downtown K Street Mall area from a once-bustling pedestrian mall filled with independently owned shops and department stores, to a crime laden, blighted area replete with abandoned buildings and crazy homeless people. It sounds ripe for another publicly-funded re-do.

“How do you transfer $250 million from taxpayers to billionaires?” my friend Stephen Frank recently commented on one of my arena stories on his website. “How do you become a billionaire?  One way is to have others pay for your play toys.  Is it the role of government to pay for arenas, in Stockton they paid for a parking lot for a movie theater, LA and San Fran have the Coliseum and Cow palace—while all of California is being inundated with criminals and fewer cops.”

Frank is so right.

“Arenas are nothing more that fields of schemes, and the joke is on taxpayers. And Sacramento is hardly a bastion of economic splendor,” I wrote in March in Sacramento arena: ‘Field of Schemes.’

“Despite some of the highest unemployment in the country, escalating business closures, widespread home foreclosures and short sales, and declining tax revenue, arena talks are all the rage in Sacramento.”

According to Eye on Sacramento, a Sacramento-based public policy watchdog group, Sacramento’s “city staff has grossly understated the total public contribution to the arena. Instead of contributing $258 million, EOS estimates that city taxpayers will be contributing $334 million to the project, representing not 58 percent of the project cost, as claimed by staff, but 75 percent of the project’s cost (not counting subsidies provided by county government or future undetermined traffic infrastructure costs.)”

With most local media cheerleading on this deceitful project instead of asking questions, Sacramento taxpayers are in for a long and expensive ride which may likely end up in the same location Stockton did — Bankruptcy Court.


Write a comment
  1. Hondo
    Hondo 1 May, 2013, 09:43

    The NBA and all the other sports except to hockey have plenty of private money to build all their stadiums with out any public money. This is a classic case of publicize the debt and losses and privatize the profits.
    Paul Allen, the Microsoft billionaire and owner of the seahawks, could finance any new stadium in any sport, easily. All of them.
    As a fan of basketball and football and all the sports, I am stunned by the greed and immorality of the professional sports teams. Extorting tax payer dollars from cities like Sac town who are in horrible financial state and barely able to pay their employees or keep their streets clean. Sac town has been put into an immoral situation. Give huge taxpayers breaks to millionaire players and billionaire owners to keep the teams in town. Or lose the teams and suddenly become the next Stockton with an empty stadium they still have to pay for. And also lose huge amounts of tax revenue that they desperately need and that they have already spent.
    Who can be a fan of sports teams that extort money from po taxpayers and give it to millionaire players and billionaire owners. I can’t

    Reply this comment
  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 1 May, 2013, 10:09

    Correct Hondo. This is the worst example of government in bed with crony capitalists, at the expense of taxpayers. It’s irresponsible and reckless, and should be against the law — especially since voters have already had a chance to vote on a publicly funded arena and said NO.


    Reply this comment
  3. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 1 May, 2013, 11:09

    Prediction is the arena will not be built and the KIngs end up eventually in Seattle…we will see. INteresting to watch the jerk Steinberg trying to get jobs for his union cronies….see it Sac can build the first 1 billion dollar arena..What a &&&hole!

    Reply this comment
  4. Hondo
    Hondo 1 May, 2013, 15:13

    I’m reading that the NBA is taking the LOWER bid from the Sac Kings because the King promised a tax funded stadium. Seattle has a higher bid and promised to build the arena with private money. The NBA is rejecting Seattle because it would set a precedent. The NBA wants to extort taxpayer dollars to build arenas. That is disgusting beyond belief.
    The NBA has Sac town in a bind and extorting the taxpayers and K-Jay.

    Reply this comment
  5. Charles Donaldson
    Charles Donaldson 20 May, 2013, 19:14

    Put the subsidy to a vote. If they refuse, recall the mayor and the council. I think if people get organized, they can stop this.

    Reply this comment

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