They overcame the Maloofs, Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, and forces from Orange County. In the end, the City of Sacramento voted to approve the final form of its downtown arena deal, which will pave the way for site demolition and the eventual construction of the ESC, to be opened as early as 2016 (deadline set by the NBA is the start of the 2017-18 season).
Final estimate of the arena (ESC) cost is $477 million, $222 million coming from the Kings and $255 million from the City. The Kings are providing much of the upfront money while the City secures either short or long-term financing. The team has also asked for a short-term, $12 million loan from the City to cover permits and other related expenses. That request was approved as part of the vote. A CEQA challenge may be filed by opponents as early as tomorrow, but it won’t be able to halt construction.
Sacramento is banking on the arena to revitalize downtown, especially as the venue replaces the largely failed Downtown Plaza mall. While regional spending on Kings games and some concerts/ice shows should show at least a modest improvement due to the ESC replacing Power Balance Pavilion, additional concerts should come thanks to the more attractive facility, which should boost ticket sales and ancillary economic activity. The City is rerouting a great deal of parking revenue to pay for its share with the hope that new construction will spring up the same way Staples Center catalyzed downtown Los Angeles.
Most of the country has not seen the economic boom that hotspots like the Bay Area, Texas, and North Dakota are experiencing. Sacramento is see some improvements, though it’s not close enough to the Bay Area to see any major benefits. Hopefully a widespread boom will sustain growth in downtown Sacramento, because if the country hits another one of those bust cycles, the dream of a revitalized urban core will have trouble coming to fruition. Personally, I’d be more impressed if the many Silicon Valley interests who have ownership stakes in the Kings open offices in the Sacramento area. That would really be putting money where their mouths are.
The large public subsidy remains a sore spot for me. I’m a bit of a hardliner on the issue. I realize that the subsidy issue is often considered a value proposition by many. X dollars may be the price required to attract or retain a team. If the public supports that, so be it. It’s happened in Santa Clara, now in Sacramento, and maybe in the future in Oakland. Nevertheless, I’m happy for Kings fans that they’ll be able to see their team locally for decades to come.