Arena Economics not Only Criteria

In a recent article in the Sacramento Bee, the economic results of the downtown arena are challenged, which is a good discussion to have; but the far more important issue is the quality of life a new downtown arena and related development will have on the city of Sacramento and the surrounding regional area.

This aspect is mentioned in the article but, considering the long-term impact on quality of life issues for the future, it is not highlighted enough.

Every vibrant metropolitan area has a successful downtown, and even though we are a suburban family who rarely travel downtown—though we might more once the promised arena and related development becomes a reality—we realize how important it will be to Sacramento.

While economics is certainly a vital aspect of public administration and the decisions public leaders make, the quality of life that certain projects bring to their communities is also important.

The Parkway is a perfect example of this.

Even though Parkway use stimulates millions in economic activity, almost everyone agrees that its major value is related to the quality of life Sacramentans enjoy, and a rejuvenated downtown will be a welcome addition.

An excerpt from the Bee article:

Critics point to a recent memo from City Treasurer Russ Fehr predicting the city will get $2.7 million a year in new taxes once the project is built out. They say that’s a meager return on an investment that will cost the city about $19 million a year in principal and interest payments. The city says arena revenue and the city’s parking operations will repay the debt.

“It’s a horrendous financial deal … and the return on investment is inadequate,” said City Councilman Kevin McCarty, who opposes the subsidy. He said the projected tax revenue is a more realistic assessment of the project’s worth than “pie-in-the-sky economic impact studies.”

City Hall officials see it differently.

“The objectives of the project are broader than a dollar-for-dollar cash return, no different than when the city invested in museums, the Crocker,” said Assistant City Manager John Dangberg. “It’s about having a downtown that serves the entire region in terms of entertainment, in terms of business. … When you look at successful cities around the world, their downtown cores are successful.”

Retrieved January 26, 2014 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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