Natomas leaders ‘frustrated’ over arena battle

Natomas business leaders admitted Monday they’re fighting an uphill battle to avoid losing the Sacramento Kings arena.

At a morning press conference, Natomas Chamber of Commerce leaders said they’re asking Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Sacramento City Council to reject a task force recommendation announced Friday.

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.

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January 24, 2011 | 7:18 PM

With due respect to the Natomas Chamber… ARCO with finality blew up the myth that an sports arena in and of itself will generate development. Not a single development, even a Taco Bell can be traced to the arena. Natomas would do far better if the arena and land were converted into a commercial office or factory site.

Further the reason the Task Force placed the Natomas proposal last is because the main function of a new arena/events center is to draw large conventions to Sacramento. Everyone in the Chamber knows Sacramento continuously loses large conventions, because they will not be bussed from hotels out to ARCO. Sacramento is losing millions of convention dollars, which could be used to support parks and other amenities in communities… like Natomas.

January 24, 2011 | 9:27 PM

Wrong, the north Natomas area would not have been developed at all if it was not for Arco Arena being built out there. That was part of the deal in 1986 by City leaders to agreed and open it up for developers only if Arco Arena was built there. When Arco opened in 1989 the swath of land around the arena was then clear for development.

Rhy02: do you just make up these statements or do you have any links to facts to backup your claim?

January 25, 2011 | 9:53 AM

Which makes one wonder why they just didn’t allow development in Natomas in return for an arena downtown. But that would have required real pro-business vision, something Red Square Rudin and Soviet Serna would not do.

January 25, 2011 | 5:56 AM

There is nothing appealing about Natomas as a location for the arena. It is just another suburb crowded with strip malls and six-laners. Putting it downtown is far better. A mistake was made putting Arco where it is; why extend that error to appease a few disgruntled businesspeople to the detriment of the entire city?

January 25, 2011 | 8:08 AM

fairly simple, if natomas wins to keep the arena in place the kings are leaving. it’s just not an NBA quality arena anymore.

January 25, 2011 | 10:53 AM

But the main issue not discussed here is the financing plan in Natomas. From what I understand that plan would cut deeply into revenues the Maloofs are looking forward to like parking fees.

You could finance it, but the team could leave because of the unfavorable terms. That would be the worst possible outcome.

January 25, 2011 | 11:59 AM

Will a downtown site have parking fees for the Maloofs?

I agree that the Maloofs have to be given what they want. That is the reality of the situation.

The real question, however, is how can we most cheaply (re)build a new arena. I know some people have mass-transitopian and downtown utopian visions dancing in their heads, but priority #1 is keeping the Kings at lowest cost.

January 25, 2011 | 11:37 PM

The other downtown proposals that failed did have parking revenues for the Maloofs. It was a major point of contention as that would go a long way to paying back the needed bonds to build something in any location.

April 20, 2011 | 12:22 PM

Of course the arena has to be rebuilt. However, *if* the rebuilding can be done much easier and more cheaply in Natomas…..funding is at a premium, especially in these times.

January 25, 2011 | 10:30 AM

When Arco I & II were built, it made sense to build them in the outskirts; money, residents, and jobs had all left the central city, and the community’s focus was getting out of the central city and creating infrastructure for cars to make life quicker. Yet almost 30 years later, there’s been a shift in people’s mindsets on how a functional city should operate, and continuing to create these islands of economic activity only accessible by cars isn’t the smartest long-term land use strategy. Yes, lightrail is headed that direction eventually, but the residents of Natomas don’t even encourage its expansion.

Arco did help spur growth for Natomas, in the form of single-family homes, condos, shopping centers, and chain restaurants, only accessible by car, built on speculation to feed increasing demand for “good real estate investments.” Unfortunately, the whole community sprouted up in a flood plain for a river held back by unstable levies, where we now see, a few too many homes & shopping centers were built.

A new arena is something that will last for probably another 30 years, and I will most likely be around for all 30 of those years, until another new arena needs to get build. I can guarantee that the trend to increase urban development and density, and improve life in the central city will be the focus for the foreseeable future. As somebody who’s going to take part in enjoying a future arena and the City for a long time, I don’t want it to be constructed using an auto-centric model from the previous generation. I want it to be built with the modern ideals of what we now know regarding the importance of connectivity, agglomeration and need for sustainability of large economic centers.

This is off-topic, but I also see, and have researched, the positive externalities that modern and significant cultural and economic centers have on cities, such as parks, theaters, art museums, universities, yes, even a modern entertainment arenas. Given these positive effects, both economically and socially, I endorse the reasoning for public funding, if absolutely needed. It’s about more than basketball, and the “Magoofs,” as people might argue, and about less than becoming “world class.” It’s about providing the residents the things that ultimately make them happy to live in Sacramento.

January 25, 2011 | 10:55 AM


January 25, 2011 | 11:59 AM

With all due respect, “downtown/central city/urban renewal” has been a topic since suburbia began in the 1950′s, even earlier in a few places.

As for “islands of economic activity only accessible by cars”, there’s a reason for that. Most people don’t like living in dense urban ghettoes. Some might like dense urban hipster spots, but not people with families. It seems they like to have a yard for their kids to play in.

The real question, however, is how can we most cheaply (re)build a new arena. I know some people have mass-transitopian and downtown utopian visions dancing in their heads, but priority #1 is keeping the Kings at lowest cost.

January 25, 2011 | 1:22 PM

Is building an Arena Downtown as opposed to Natomas financially better for the city in the long run? Of course! There is one minor problem with that however; the chances of getting an Arena built on the railyards at this point are very remote. We have been wasting time for years with failed plans to get a new arena built Downtown, in today’s economic climate it’s just not feasible.

The task force is recommending that the ICON-Taylor team lead, but need another 90 days to submit a plan? Are you joking? The Maloofs can file for relocation on March 1st, meaning that idea would never even get off the ground!

We have to think practically here people, if Natomas is “shovel ready,” then let’s put on the hard hats, start digging, and keep basketball (and for all intentsive purpose ENTERTAINMENT) in Sacramento!

January 25, 2011 | 3:41 PM

Honestly, how can the Council hope to get this done in 90 days?

I can’t see a way through that doesn’t involve a public vote, and I don’t think the NBA and the Maloofs will back an approach where the plan will require a vote. That would just mean more delays and a probable loss at the polls.

I’m wondering if the Maloofs don’t go ahead and file to relocate on March 1. This would at least give them a backup plan, and would also put pressure on the locals to do something. Yeah, it could backfire and the Council could easily put an early end to the 90-day study period, but it seems like the Maloofs have to cover themselves one way or another.

That rumor of a $100M offer from Samueli suddenly makes sense. The Maloofs could continue to make payments on their loan (the arena is still their property, after all) until it’s sold, and they’d have $30M to cover part or all of the relocation fees.

I just think filing to relocate is now a given. Even if they don’t mean it, it seems like the correct tactic.

(The public would, by about a 10-1 ratio, wish them luck and for the door to not hit them. I want them to stay, but only at a reasonable cost. Q&R was not a reasonable cost. The first Convergence plan was not a reasonable cost.)

January 25, 2011 | 3:46 PM

I’ve also asked a question several times that I’ve never seen answered.

The collateral on the loan is the arena plus $25M. Why can’t the Maloofs simply hand the deed and the keys to the arena to KJ, along with a check for $25M, and stop making payments on the balance of the loan? I think the combined value of the collateral is less than $68M.

Where would the $25M come from? Samueli.

January 26, 2011 | 9:57 AM

Are we forgetting that we are in a deficit? Where is anyone getting the money to build this new arena? Plus, downtown already has so many attractions to get businesses up and running and keep people entertained. What people come to Natomas for is events at Arco. Instead of creating an even bigger financial debt, increased traffic, and the headache of construction downtown, give Arco a face lift and leave it in Natomas. Without it, Natomas will surely suffer.

April 19, 2011 | 6:47 PM

Interesting article. I think keeping the arena in natomas is better. The thought of going to downtown to watch a game can be horrifying, imagine all that traffic on the freeway (i-5 sure is gonna be clogged up), the ridiculously expensive parking, etc.. At least the infrastructure in natomas was designed with the arena in mind.

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