I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to see the exciting plans being developed for the arena and the downtown area and know that the folks creating them have the wherewithal and the commitment to follow through.
We are finally going to have, in short order, a downtown we can once again be proud of.
The Sacramento Bee reports on the latest.
Still three years away from its planned opening, Sacramento’s proposed downtown arena is drawing attention from fans for several innovative design ideas, but also drew a potentially tough new opponent Tuesday.
Speaking at a series of recent public arena planning workshops, Kings President Chris Granger dropped the surprise news that the $448 million Downtown Plaza facility may have far fewer seats than originally proposed, possibly fewer than at old Sleep Train Arena, but could pack more patrons in, nonetheless, by offering special standing-room-only ticket sections and a dramatic outdoor plaza seating area.
Even as Kings officials continued refining the arena concept, the movement to challenge the arena subsidy gained momentum of its own: Tuesday a new group announced it would oppose the city’s plan to contribute a $258 million subsidy.
The group, calling itself Voters for a Fair Arena Deal, is getting support from nonunion contractors angry because they’ve been effectively locked out of bidding on the new arena. The nonunion contractors expect to contribute $15,000 to $25,000 initially to the effort, said Eric Christen, a member of the new committee and leader of nonunion builders pushing for a piece of the construction project.
Community activist Craig Powell, president of the watchdog group Eye on Sacramento, said Voters for a Fair Arena Deal will gather signatures for the petition drive launched earlier this year by Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, or STOP. But Powell said his group will operate separately and isn’t opposed to a public subsidy for an arena.
“What we are in favor of is an arena subsidy we can afford,” Powell said. Powell contends that the city, under the current plan, would be putting up more than the advertised $258 million investment to help build the arena.
Powell said he believes STOP is close to gathering enough signatures to put the subsidy issue on next June’s ballot but has been hampered “big time” by controversy, including the recent disclosure that much of its funding came from the financier who wanted to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle.
Under a plan negotiated this spring between the city and the Kings, the city would own the arena, but the Kings would operate it for basketball games, concerts and other events. The two subsidy opposition groups, which will work mainly at arm’s length from each other, have until mid-December to gather 22,000 signatures from registered voters living in the city of Sacramento to put the issue on the June 2014 ballot.
Kings and city officials, meanwhile, say they are pushing ahead with plans for the arena, which they plan to open in October 2016. City officials declined to comment on the anti-arena effort, saying they are focused on the planning work.