As reported in the Sacramento Bee, the odds of Sacramento keeping the Kings and totally renewing downtown just got a whole lot better, and the efforts of the mayor and former NBA star are the major reason why.
“Mayor Kevin Johnson wanted the Sacramento City Council to send an unmistakable message to the NBA about the city’s commitment to a new arena for the Kings.
“He wound up getting a 7-2 vote – and pronounced himself thrilled.
“After more than three hours of impassioned pleas and debate, the council agreed late Tuesday to a nonbinding term sheet on a $448 million arena at Downtown Plaza. The city would contribute $258 million, most of it by borrowing against future revenue generated by downtown parking meters and garages.
“It was the second time in a little more than a year that the council voted to build a new arena for the Kings. But while Tuesday night’s vote brought a standing ovation and chants of “Sacramento!” from the Kings fans who packed council chambers for the vote, there was also a sobering realization that the Kings’ fate has yet to be decided.
“The arena proposal – along with a bid to buy the team itself – will be presented in New York on April 3 to a select committee of NBA owners, who will weigh Sacramento’s plan alongside a competing offer from Seattle. All the owners will meet April 18 to vote on whether the team should stay or go.
“We’re not jumping the gun yet. We know this is the next step we need to take,” said Kings fan Troy Bedal, who showed up nearly an hour before the meeting to make sure he got a seat. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves.”
“Council members said they were swayed by the potential for a grand revival of downtown. Not only would the super-wealthy “whales” buy the Kings and build an arena, they have said they will build 1.5 million square feet of development on what’s left of Downtown Plaza. That could generate additional development in the vicinity.
“We have four billionaires who’ve essentially said Sacramento is worthy,” said Councilman Steve Hansen, who had initially urged the vote be postponed but now called the plan a good one. “This is our opportunity. This is our moment.”