Natomas leaders ‘frustrated’ over arena battle
Natomas business leaders admitted Monday they’re fighting an uphill battle to avoid losing the Sacramento Kings arena.
The task force, which was appointed by the mayor, recommends Sacramento developer David Taylor and a Colorado sports facility developer be chosen to explore building an arena downtown over the next three months. That team won the recommendation over three others, including one backed by the Natomas chamber.
"Natomas is not giving up the fight to keep the arena in Natomas," said Chamber President Ed Koop, who stood in a soggy field within view of Arco Arena, the Kings’ current home.
The chamber and its arena development team, Natomas Entertainment Sports Center Partners, propose building a new arena on the land – about 100 acres owned by the city.
The chamber and Natomas ESC Partners also encouraged Sacramento residents who support keeping the arena in Natomas to show their support at the City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The task force is scheduled to present an analysis of four arena teams and recommendations to the City Council then.
The Natomas chamber has gathered hundreds of signatures from residents, business owners and others who want to keep the arena in Natomas, said Marni Leger, who chairs the chamber's arena committee.
Koop and Leger spent the rest of the day meeting with City Council members to discuss their concerns. More appointments were scheduled for Tuesday.
They're asking the City Council to determine how much it would cost to build an arena downtown versus in Natomas.
Skanska, the Natomas team's contractor, looked at two proposed downtown sites – the downtown railyards and Westfield Downtown Plaza – and estimated keeping the arena in Natomas would save $100 million to $200 million, said Bob Moreno, managing director of Brookhurst Development Corp. The company is a partner on the Natomas development team.
The ICON-Taylor team doesn’t have a plan to build an arena yet but asked the city for 90 days to create one. The task force is recommending the city work exclusively with that team, but the lack of a plan will continue to delay getting an area built after another attempt failed last year. The Natomas site is “shovel-ready” and has all the necessary infrastructure, they said.
"It's pretty frustrating to be at this point," Koop said. "From the beginning, we've known we're fighting an uphill battle."
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.