Task force spots flaws in arena proposals
Mayor Kevin Johnson’s volunteer task force on Thursday continued its second session of challenging proposals presented by prospective developers of a new arena in Sacramento.
The 12-member task force heard presentations from Thomas Enterprises, the Kamilos Group, Natomas ESC Partners and Tripp Development. The prospective developers explained their financing plans, among other issues.
Task force member Mike Kvarme asked how much of Thomas Enterprises’ project financing would rely on obtaining federal funding.
“It’s a large part of it,” said Suheil Totah, vice president of Thomas Enterprises.
Totah also commented on the site’s location at the railyards in Downtown. Thomas Enterprises is developing the railyards.
“I think the NBA sees this as the right location in order to maximize funding for the actual team itself,” Totah said.
After the presentation from Thomas Enterprises, the Kamilos Group made its pitch to the task force. Gerry Kamilos’ proposal has the backing of the NBA, the Maloofs and developer David Taylor.
In Kamilos’ plan, the Downtown railyards will be the site of a 19,000-seat sports and entertainment arena. In a second part of the plan, a new fairgrounds would be built at Arco Arena and on nearby land.
John Moag, a consultant for the NBA working with Kamilos, last month explained a third part of the proposal. For that part, Kamilos’ development team intends to purchase the California Exposition & State Fair from the state. A mixed-use residential development would be built at the Cal Expo site. Funds from the new development would help finance the arena Kamilos plans to build at the railyards Downtown, Moag said.
Taylor said he felt that the commitment from the NBA and the Maloof family was “huge.” The Maloofs own the Sacramento Kings.
But task force member Ron Tom said that many Natomas residents have told him they don’t want a new fairgrounds to be built in their neighborhood.
“Our team is very experienced with sitting and listening,” Kamilos said.
One piece of the project’s financing would come from people who own property at the Cal Expo property, Kamilos said. He explained that property owners at that location would pay an annual assessment.
The mechanism to assess the property owners at the Cal Expo property would require approval by the state Legislature.
Kamilos said there is a possibility that the legislation could go into a “spot bill,” which is a way to move legislation into an existing bill.
The Natomas ESC Partners followed Kamilos’ presentation with a pitch to create an arena next to the current Arco Arena site in Natomas.
Rick Millitello, an executive vice president for Skanska Builders, indicated that Magic Johnson’s company may work with Natomas ESC Partners on the project.
Skansa has been in a relationship with Magic Johnson Enterprises for more than two years, Millitello said. “Specifically, Magic helps bring us a more robust, diversity involvement into the projects that really helps our diversity program.”
On a separate note, Larry Kelley, a task force member and former owner of the Sacramento Kings, told ESC Partners that their financing plan involves millions of dollars in costs to the Maloofs that are not affordable. "I can just tell you, as a previous owner of the Kings, they’re broke," Kelley said.
Tripp Development made the final presentation Thursday. Rick Tripp proposed to build a new complex Downtown that would be paid by funds from real estate agents and brokers. The real estate agents would dedicate their commissions to financing the complex, he said.
The agents would then be investors in the arena, Tripp said.
Task force member Chris Lehane complimented Tripp on thinking “out-of-the-box.”
Staff Reporter Suzanne Hurt contributed to this story. Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.