To boycott or not? An interview with Carmichael Dave on the latest twist in the Sacramento Kings saga

Carmichael Dave / File photo

When news broke that Mayor Kevin Johnson’s "Plan B" for the arena was officially dead, The Sacramento Press reached out to a group of local writers and thinkers who’ve been following the issue to get their thoughts. First on the list was Dave Weiglein, better known as Carmichael Dave, the unofficial mascot of the Kings fanbase, and the organizer of last year’s impressive, but ultimately quixotic grassroots campaign for a new arena, "Here We Build."  He’s currently producing his own Internet radio network at www.thecdnetworks.com.

Next week we’ll have interviews with James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom, Isaac Gonzalez of ranSACedmedia, and Cosmo Garvin of Sacramento News & Review. Carmichael Dave, Ham and Gonzalez will be joining us for video chats after noon on Tuesday. [Update: It's shaping up to be a debate between Carmichael Dave and Isaac Gonzalez. We'll broadcast it live at noon on Tuesday.]

Here’s the interview, which was conducted on Tuesday afternoon:

The Sacramento Press: You’ve been positive on Twitter since the announcement – What are your thoughts on the mayor’s announcement that “Plan B” has failed?

Carmichael Dave: It makes me want to vomit. It’s a joke until you actually sit back and look at what happened. The fact that the will of the people combined with a truly grassroots effort has not been done. I think we all have a pretty decent idea where the blame lays. It can be spread, but I don’t care about blame. I care about the same thing I cared about over a year ago when we started "Here We Build," and all the other grassroots efforts – to get it done. Sacramento has gone from being a true fairy tale story for the rest of the country to smile at to a public joke for the rest of the county to laugh at. People can try to spin it all they want: It’s a fucking joke…

SP: David Stern has said some encouraging things recently about the Kings and Sacramento. Does that give you hope?

CD: David Stern speaks in riddles and he’s always done that – that’s how he is. He is a gatekeeper. Stern is the commissioner of the NBA, and is basically a representative of the owners of the NBA – he is their advocate – yet David Stern has done an unprecedented thing by coming out and all but saying, “Hooray for the city of Sacramento, you guys are awesome, and the Kings’ ownership is a total embarrassment.” And he’s pretty much said that – that being said, David Stern doesn’t have 30 votes in his pocket. David Stern is an adviser to the other owners that do have those votes.

If I, as a citizen of Sacramento, thought that the answer was to simply bully the Maloofs dry, then we’d have a boycott starting tomorrow, but we are on a teeter-totter, looking over a cliff, and nobody is talking to anybody – everybody is posturing, and it needs to stop. Somebody has to step up, put their ego aside, and have the balls to say, “Listen, this is our end game, how do we get there?" and put everybody in the same room, but right now you’ve got millionaires and politicians that are all playing grabass, trying to save face. I’d say we are right back where we were a year and a half ago, but here’s the difference: There’s been a lot of blood, sweat, tears and public proclamation since a year and a half ago, so in a way we’re kind of in a worse spot, but the bottom line is that Sacramento still has the Kings. There have been public statements, most recently by one of the owners, Joe Maloof, that they’re not moving, they’re staying in Sacramento, so there are tools to work with.

But when I make that statement, “there are tools to work with,” it’s double-sided. There are tools to work with, but the people of Sacramento are being forced to work with a bunch of tools. They need to figure it out, or we’ll make them figure it out with our wallets and our votes. The city right now is a fucking firecracker, getting ready to explode, and all it takes is a starting gun. We can turn this into a really positive venture or everybody can get their hands held up into a big giant, angry hate fest, and it’s up to the leaders of both this city and this basketball team to decide which way that’s going to go.

SP: But in the face of that, you still think it’s going to get done?

CD: I do think it’s going to get done because the city has put too much on the line, and for the first time in my life here – 36 years – the city has gone out of its way and actually cut through the red tape and created a road to actually spending money and investing in itself, and that’s a miracle, and the city needs to be commended for that. On the other hand, you’ve got the Maloofs, who have pretty much pissed away all the good will they’ve ever had in this town, that any sort of [move] that translates into a [decrease of] public support and dollars spent is going to be catastrophic to their bottom line.

So, it’s not like you’re dealing with Bill Gates on one side and Warren Buffet on the other – you’re dealing with people in the city who have very limited political capital to begin with, and you’re dealing with the owners of the Kings that have very little capital, period, to deal with. Somebody is going to have to move. There is going to have to be an intermediary, a third party, somebody that’s going to bring these guys together and, ultimately, either the Maloofs come forward and say, “You know what, make a couple of minor changes and let’s restart this thing,” or somebody is going to have to facilitate a transfer of the team to new ownership that comes in and gets to be a conquering hero and white knight, and says let’s restart this thing.

Either way, that’s going to have to happen because the status quo is not going to cut it with the city, and they will again answer with their dollars and their votes and their wrath, and neither side can afford to deal with that.

SP: The question going forward is – Will the people start to get discouraged? Are they still going to keep that energy in this kind of environment?

CD: I can tell you from my perspective that I have no lack of an energy reservoir when it comes to this, and I don’t care if we have to start over 12 times. It’s going to happen, but there needs to be some maneuvering behind the scenes, so that when things are done, or announced or talked about, that it’s a united front with several groups…

I’m just trying to take the temperature of both sides, since I do have the advantage of having both sides that will pick up the phone when I call, and then just try to see where we’re at, look at the landscape, and consult with the other grassroots people and entities and see what needs to happen. Is it a waiting game? Do we play it positive? The other avenue, which, really, is becoming more and more clear to me every day, probably, is going to end up being "scorched earth" – tickets, boycott, just flat-out scorn, and really, just an all-out torches and pitchforks towards Arco Arena to try and change ownership. That’s where it’s headed right now. I really don’t want it to head that way, and I’m doing everything I can to stop it, but you’re not hearing anything from the white towers in Las Vegas, and that’s a problem.

SP: But do you think that the Maloofs could use a boycott as an excuse to leave Sacramento?

CD: Yes, I do, and that’s the only reason it hasn’t happened yet. As I said, you’re getting messages and code from David Stern that are really kinda, reinforcing Sacramento’s commitment, but the fear is if you boycott the team, you boycott the Maloofs, and they are able to go to the NBA, which was not receptive to a move before and say, “Listen, this market has completely turned on us, and we can’t make a profit. This is our team. We should have the right to make a profit. We can’t do it here"… and the NBA says, “You know what? We don’t want a legal battle. You’re right, why don’t you go to Seattle?” That’s the scary thing.

At some point, there’s going to be a leap of faith – one way or the other. Either you’re going to take a leap of faith as a fan base and say, “We don’t want to sit around and do nothing as a city and as a fan base – we have to do something – so we’re going to take a shot at doing this, hoping that the Maloofs sell the team,” or you take a leap of faith and say, “Alright, we just have to have the chips fall where they may, and we hope that the Maloofs end up not being able to run this team long-term and they have to sell anyway,” or they end up going back to the table and realizing the arena deal is the best way to go. Either way it’s a gamble. It’s just a question as to what’s the best gamble to make.

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July 6, 2012 | 7:52 AM

If private entities want to “gamble”, let them gamble with their own money. Don’t use public funds when the city is already broke, firing cops, the roads are falling apart, and the parks look like wastelands. That’s the only “gamble” I want public resources used on; the gamble that investing in our shared infrastructure and public safety will be mutually beneficial to everyone.

July 6, 2012 | 6:04 PM

Gambling public funds on future income that wouldnt be there without an ESC (parking funds) IS NOT THE SAME as using tax funds. Go ahead and talk crazy about how the 9million hole will not be filled and some other kind of crazy you may make up… You are great at talking crazy world will end bullshit… Or you blame fans for sacrificing the children for a sports team when really its the complete opposite. You make it seem as though parking rights can be sold for $250mil today, which is not the case, and you use the same ignorant tone as Sheedy and the Maloofs. Get real. People are not stupid, they know you are an ignorant attention whore, who is trying to make a name for himself. Shame on you for putting your personal ambitions in front of the future if Sacramento. If you cared about cops, children, firefighters you would support the ESC and not use these people as leverage to make yourself feel important. Shame.

July 6, 2012 | 6:37 PM

The parking funds calculation was based on existing parking revenues – those funds do exist now and they would need to be backfilled in some manner if that annual revenue isn’t to be lost. That may not be a perspective that you like, but it is an accurate representation of the situation.

July 6, 2012 | 7:05 PM

Isaac, the “gamble” that Dave was referring to was regarding where arena supporters go from here: pressure the Maloofs and risk helping to push the team away, or don’t do anything and risk having the team taken away without a fight. I’m not sure if you genuinely misunderstood that, or if you just had nothing to say about actual content of the interview and decided to jump right into the talking points.

Tony, an “accurate representation of the situation” is that the people working on this project were absolutely addressing the need to backfill the current level of parking revenue into the general fund. Maybe you believe they’re all just corrupt liars intent on destroying the city’s budget, or maybe you have actual evidence that the plan won’t work, but in either case you should support your opinions.

July 6, 2012 | 9:35 PM

I don’t think that I’m providing any greater number of unsupported opinions than you are. And I don’t think think this has been a matter of mass corruption and lying, more a mix of hopeful attempted wish fulfillment and unrealistic projections and inappropriately long time frames.

lex
Profile photo of lex
July 6, 2012 | 8:46 AM

Your sentiment is the popular one Isaac but I think it is the short-sighted and wrong one for city leadership to follow. Elected officials always need to be thinking about investing public funds for projects that add tax dollars to the bottom line because that is where you get the continuing revenue streams to keep cops employed, roads paved and parks maintained. Cities need to have a private sector mindset to compete for tax dollars or risk losing them to the suburbs around them or other neighboring cities. Whether an arena is the right project to use public funds is a different argument but a city that fails to use public funds to invest in itself is destined to fall behind. As you state, shared infrastructure and public safety are mutually beneficial to everyone but you need tax dollars to pay for them because that money isn’t going to fall from the sky. That money needs to be generated by bringing people into the city to either live or spend money and to do that sometimes it requires the investment of public funds where it makes sense.

July 6, 2012 | 10:50 AM

Go ahead and invest public dollars in projects, but let the public own it outright or at least get a share of the profits that reflects its level of investment. The deal we had was for the city to take all the risk and get paid the least and last. That’s not a good deal.

July 6, 2012 | 1:09 PM

Or do it without making 30-50 year commitments on assets that won’t last that long. There’s a reason you buy a car with a 5 year plan and a house with a 30 year plan – you don’t see many 30 year car loans.

We’d probably be better off at this point finding a good candidate for developing the railyards site, with some basic conditions on how long they have to finish a project, how many people they need to employ, etc., and then simply giving it to them without committing any additional funds. We need full-time jobs that employ people who live in the City and who spend their money in the city. If we don’t figure that out, we’re going to need to start taxing people who earn their living in the City and use its services on a daily basis, but who live, spend, and generate tax revenues somewhere else.

July 6, 2012 | 6:02 PM

Tony: The problem is that the city doesn’t own the Railyards–Inland American does. All we own is the plot near the train station, which is fully committed to being the new intermodal facility. So we can’t give the Railyards site away unless we buy it from Inland first.

July 6, 2012 | 6:47 PM

Oops – my bad on that point. But the City could facilitate a sale by offering a property tax amnesty on that site for a period of, say, 10 years without having to cough up upfront cash. Which is a fairly typical way of luring development.

July 6, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Isaac, the city would own the ESC outright. After the 30-year term, it’s a $400 million unencumbered asset that can continue to contribute jobs and revenue to the city in any number of ways. Also, the main “profit” for the city with a project like this is the private investment that it draws, the development that it drives, the economic multipliers of those activities, and the revenues and jobs created. It’s not like the city can just open up a multi-million dollar lemonade stand and rake in the dough. That’s not how municipal economics work. I’m really not sure how you’re supporting all of these pronouncements you’re making.

Tony, ThinkBig’s statement about the death of “Plan B” explained that they are continuing to look for ways to lure development to the railyards, the rest of downtown, and other areas throughout the region to bolster Sacramento’s economy. I don’t think they’ve ever had a myopic view about any of this. But the fact is that an ESC in the railyards, in addition to keeping the Kings as an economic and recreational asset to the city, would have leveraged a $250 million dollar public investment to bring in a direct private investment of nearly $150 million dollars. Even ignoring the impact as an engine for driving further private investment in the railyards and the city as a whole, there aren’t many projects that can directly pull that much money into the city. It’s really hard to see how anyone could be against such a huge growth opportunity, other than the bitter Natomas nationalists or people with misguided nostalgia for quainter times.

July 6, 2012 | 7:52 PM

Tony: Property tax is actually a very small proportion of the startup costs or a business–it’s not a particularly good incentive compared to the cost of buying the land (per Prop. 13, about 1%.)

Mike: After the 30-year term, it would have been several years older than the “obsolete, outdated” one in Natomas. And every study of the effects of arenas on local economies not written by arena shills makes it pretty clear that arenas are not good sources for those multiplier effects you’re talking about–generally, they don’t draw investment to any significant extent.

July 6, 2012 | 9:12 PM

William, clearly the ESC will be oldish after 30 years. But it will be paid for and owned by the city, free and clear. Maybe it will continue to be useable as a major sports venue for a while (I don’t think you can compare the useful shelf-life of a $400 million arena built in 2015 to a $40 million arena built in 1988), but even when it is outdated as a professional sports facility then it will certainly be an asset to be leveraged by the city in any number of ways. It won’t be worthless, not on that piece of real estate after 30 years of development has built up around it. And, again, this is after the 30 years of return on investment in the form of private investment, development, tax revenue, jobs, etc.

I’m also aware that sports arenas are not a favorite of many economists. No surprise, there. But I think that multiplier effects are not only difficult to account for in general, but particularly difficult to account for with something having the broad implications of a major sports franchise (this is also putting aside all of the events and opportunities presented by the ESC that have nothing to do with basketball), when things like civic pride, recreational opportunity, and perception as a “major league city” are vague, yet legitimately significant, factors. I think it’s important with this to not over-think it. It doesn’t take much more than common sense to know that the ESC would be a huge magnet for investment and development. I think it’s absurd to suggest that this arena wouldn’t draw investment to any significant extent. You really think they could build a beautiful new venue in the heart of one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, in the largest untapped urban infill project in the nation, which would draw millions of visitors from all over the region and beyond to a wide variety of events, and no one is going to see the sense in putting something else on all that other dirt around it?

That whole railyards area is a friggin’ gold mine. But only if handled the right way. If the city blows it and we end up with a Bass Fishing Superstore and a few thousand tract homes, Sacramento is hopeless. But if they can move forward with the ESC plan, leveraging public assets to bring in tens of millions in direct private investment, it changes everything for Sacramento. I really believe that Sacramento could be the “number two” city in Northern California. All it takes is the right spark, and the money will keep coming in exponentially as smart investors jump in at the opportunity to be a part of the growth. I think that Mayor Johnson finally gives the city the kind of leadership that we need to handle this opportunity in the right way. Unfortunately for him and for us, our future is currently in the hands of an erratic scumbag who is desperately clinging to the remainder of the trust fund that he and his siblings have been embarrassingly pissing away.

July 6, 2012 | 9:13 PM

“…other than the bitter Natomas nationalists or people with misguided nostalgia for quainter times.”

I don’t think I fit into either of those categories – but I have seen enough economic impact studies (and analyses of economic impact studies) to find them dubious at best, especially when commissioned by proponents of a plan. This was a topic, particularly in recreation contexts, written extensively about by John Crompton at Texas A&M. Every failed venture (as well as every successful one) has a wonderfully positive economic impact study sitting somewhere on a shelf.

Not only did this one seem to be assuming some very rosy attendance/revenue figures (which is typical) but it had the long period of parking related revenue capture that was longer than the average arena lasts. I said on multiple occasions that if it could be calculated based on a 15-20 year scenario it would be far more appealing. And many supporters seemed to address the economic impacts as though they were entirely new and different, rather than simply moving from one part of town to another – and also leaving a hole in Natomas where multiple other businesses and infrastructure had developed in support of the arena site.

July 7, 2012 | 10:17 AM

Mike: The Bass Pro store has been out of the picture for years, and tract homes were never part of the Railyards plan. It’s obvious that not only do you not know the facts, you don’t care about the facts. You’re not dealing with reality, just blowing empty rhetoric at Maviglio-like speeds….or perhaps more of the Kunal Merchant variety.

July 10, 2012 | 1:58 PM

I hope people will stop the name calling and personal attacks. They’re not persuasive and are offensive.
The economic value arguement does not stand up. Kansas City’s arena has generated nearly zero private investment. Stockton is bankrupt in part because of public cost of an arena. General agreement among neutral economists publicly subsidized arenas do not generate expected economic development. Google “publicly subsudized arena” and read the articles.

July 10, 2012 | 2:26 PM

Sorry for spelling errors above in comments above and below. Using a cell phone. Hard to proof. I can spell subsidized.

July 6, 2012 | 8:51 AM

Issac, no existing public funds WERE being used on the new arena. It was public money that was ONLY raised BECAUSE of the new arena (parking revenues.) Those revenues don’t exist without it. You know how to rebuild the city and increase tax revenues to improve all those things you mentioned? Reinvest in it…create jobs…revitalize parts of it….bring in private investments. That’s exactly what the railyard and arena projects do.

We need people like you to step away from the cliches and simplified talking points, and look at the facts and reality instead. How do you think people grow their companies in the private sector? Letting them sit stagnant and hope not to cut their workforce? Or spend a little to reinvest and watch the growth?

July 6, 2012 | 10:51 AM

You obviously didn’t read the term sheet or any of the staff reports dealing with the parking revenues.

July 6, 2012 | 12:20 PM

Hey! Why did you get rid of that guy’s comment Sacpress? I thought it was good.

July 6, 2012 | 12:20 PM

In the private sector, companies figure out the product and how to make money off it, then figure out if the profits from that product will exceed expenses before proceeding. The problem with the “thinkbig” arena plan is that it was based on a highly overblown projection of profits and underestimated expenses–and, as Isaac points out, the term sheet made it very clear that the parking-lease plan was untenable, and the whole thing would be based on a bond issue (in other words, public debt) that might have been paid off in part by parking revenue that currently goes to the city, but, if other cities’ experience is any indication, would also have required backfill from the city’s general fund.

July 6, 2012 | 1:01 PM

Parking revenues ARE existing public funds. They exist with or without the arena and are already a significant line item in the City’s revenues.

July 6, 2012 | 8:03 PM

Isaac, again you’re making pronouncements without any support. I’d be sick to my stomach trying to pull that kind of stuff, but I guess we’re not all burdened with intellectual integrity. Must be nice.

William, as I ask of Tony above, I think you should explain why you think all of the professionals and experts developing this project are wrong. The only “expert” that I know of that has directly attacked the plan is the Orange County economist that the Maloofs hired to pull Sacramento’s pants down in front of the world because they were too chicken to simply say that they were backing out of the plan because they couldn’t afford more debt. That guy only “worked” on his assessment for two weeks, at most, and didn’t even pretend that he consulted with any of the professionals who had been crunching numbers on the project for months. Needless to say, he didn’t make a very compelling case.

The mayor, the city council, and the city manager are serious public servants and I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt that they generally did their honest due diligence on this project in the best interests of the citizens of Sacramento. They have nothing to gain from setting the city up for future disaster. Similarly, AEG is a major international firm that has more to lose in baldly ripping-off the city, as some seem to think is their intent, than to gain in their share of revenues from the ESC. Reputation matters a lot in that kind of business, and there’s no reason for them to mess around in some attempt to swindle Sacramento. Same for the NBA. They would not have taken such a role in developing and supporting this project if they didn’t sincerely believe it was a win-win for all parties. There’s too much risk in purposely setting-up the city to fail (or the Maloofs, as they would have you believe).

I recognize, though, that many people oppose the ESC plan for simple, unsupportable reasons (personal biases against Mayor Johnson and/or the NBA, the comfort of blind ideology, general curmudgeonliness, etc.). I suppose that’s their right, and it’s their right to act on it however they want. I just wish those people would all express it plainly instead of working so hard to dress it up as rational thought (or, in Isaac’s case, not working so hard at it). If you’re a paranoid kook, be a paranoid kook and make no apologies. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking you have a logical leg to stand on.

July 6, 2012 | 8:37 PM

You want studies? I give you studies.

http://www.american.com/archive/2008/april-04-08/a-closer-look-at-stadium-subsidies/
“Despite what many people believe, professional sports venues typically do not spur large-scale economic activity.”

http://www.nolandgrab.org/report/EconReport.pdf
“The following point-by-point analysis of FCRC’s planned project will demonstrate
that despite claims that it will bring the city and state $812.7 million, in fact, this
project will cause a net loss to New York City and State taxpayers of up to $506
million. Our estimates relating to this loss reveal that taxpayers could easily be
paying anywhere between $674.9 million to $1.027 billion in subsidies to the
developer.”

http://journalstar.com/news/local/education/economist-arenas-not-a-good-economic-bet/article_46d39d7a-eddc-5f6a-901a-f5cffcae2a0c.html
“A renowned economist who studies the financial impact of publicly funded arenas and stadiums around the world offered warnings Thursday of the Lincoln arena’s potential economic benefits.
While Professor Robert Baade didn’t speak specifically about the Lincoln arena, he told Nebraska Wesleyan University students he’s found through numerous studies that such venues rarely provide a return greater than the public investment used to build them.”

http://www.umbc.edu/economics/wpapers/wp_03_103.pdf
“Local political and community leaders and the owners of professional sports teams frequently claim that professional sports facilities and franchises are important engines of economic development in urban areas. These structures and teams allegedly contribute millions of dollars of net new spending annually and create hundreds of new jobs, and provide justification for hundreds of millions of dollars of public subsidies for the construction of many new professional sports facilities in the United Sates over the past decade. Despite these claims, economists have found no evidence of positive economic impact of professional sports teams and facilities on urban economies.”

http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/anderson/micro-principles/stadiums.pdf
“Public subsidies for new stadiums and arenas are commonly justified on the
basis of economic benefits they will confer on the local economy rather than on
public consumption externalities or on the value of an enhanced community
image. Yet there is virtually no evidence of any perceptible economic development
benefits from sports teams or stadiums.”

http://www.thenation.com/article/162400/why-do-mayors-love-sports-stadiums#
“Studies demonstrating pro sports stadiums’ slight economic impact go back to 1984, the year Lake Forest College economist Robert Baade examined thirty cities that had recently constructed new facilities. His finding: in twenty-seven of them, there had been no measurable economic impact; in the other three, economic activity appeared to have decreased. Dozens of economists have replicated Baade’s findings, and revealed similar results for what the sports industry calls “mega-events”: Olympics, Super Bowls, NCAA tournaments and the like. (In one study of six Super Bowls, University of South Florida economist Phil Porter found “no measurable impact on spending,” which he attributed to the “crowding out” effect of nonfootball tourists steering clear of town during game week.)”

http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv23n2/coates.pdf
“Despite the beliefs of local officials and their hired consultants
about the economic benefits of publicly subsidized
stadium construction, the consensus of academic economists
has been that such policies do not raise incomes. The
results that we describe in this article are even more pessimistic.
Subsidies of sports facilities may actually reduce
the incomes of the alleged beneficiaries.”

This isn’t a right vs. left thing–the liberal The Nation and the conservative Cato Institute agree. When you look at the facts, they all say the same thing. Arenas are a high-profile luxury, not an investment. Politicians support them because they help propel them to higher office. The construction industry likes them because they make money building them, and they assume that the city’s cash cow will never run out of milk. The NBA likes them because their business model is based on cities’ willingness to provide public funds to create arenas, which lowers team owners’ overhead and makes the NBA more profitable. And yes, people like them because people like sports. But the argument that they make fiscal sense is weak, and the financing of this arena plan was spectacularly bad, which is why it was dead. If you want to see what happens when such spectacularly bad plans come to fruition, just look at Stockton.

July 6, 2012 | 9:19 PM

“Compelling” is clearly a matter of opinion.

AEG had a massive conflict of interest and a major incentive to keep the Kings out of the LA metro market. It would have been worth it to them to throw $50m at any project that tied the Kings to Sacramento, whether or not the numbers penciled out to their local advantage – and the long term risk seemed disproportionately on the City.

And, Mike, you can come up with as many mischaracterizations as you like about folks who weren’t supporters of the plan, but it’s essentially all name-calling. You seem to be doing exactly what you’re accusing others of – making bold but unsupported statements.

July 6, 2012 | 9:35 PM

William, see above regarding economists and arenas. Again, we could waste our lives arguing about how to measure multiplier effects, substitution effects, and “tourist overcrowding”, but I’m not convinced that the simple, obvious formula is not a sound one. Arenas draw people. People equals business. Business equals money. Money equals jobs. Jobs equals wages. And so on. It’s not friggin’ voo-doo. Visit any major urban arena and any of the hundreds of businesses that depend on it, and you’ll have all the evidence you need. Also, if you really believe that international mega-events like the NBA All-Star Game (which would be all-but-guaranteed) and the Olympic Games (the ESC would put Sac in play both for a Tahoe Area Winter Games and a Bay Area Summer Games) would really have no positive economic impact on the region, then I think we’re just spinning our wheels, here.

Also, Stockton has no relevance to this discussion. Or any discussion worth having, for that matter. It’s comparing apples to oranges filled with crystal meth.

July 6, 2012 | 9:46 PM

Bill is correct about the prevalence of studies that demonstrate no long term economic gains. And the abstract of the “mega-events” is in keeping with multiple findings. I started reading about this effect while I was in grad school in South Carolina and we were fascinated by the Atlanta olympics and many of the City’s residents simply left during that time period. You can see it locally on a smaller scale by the number of people who won’t venture into midtown on Second Saturday.

This summer, conventional wisdom would have suggested that it would have been hard to buy flights in and out of London in early August. But, contrary to that, there were just several airfare sales that ended on Tuesday that were dumping seat inventory at lower than normal summer prices, including British Airways and Delta who were both selling business class seats ate barely more than the cost of an economy class seat.

It may be counter-intuitive but it’s a well studied phenomenon.

July 7, 2012 | 10:16 AM

Mike: You claimed you hadn’t seen any studies, so I showed you some studies that prove quite conclusively that what you consider obvious is completely untrue. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you aren’t entitled to your own facts. The world isn’t always simple or obvious–and assuming it is, in defiance of the facts, is a dangerous way to proceed. Examining the facts isn’t “wasting our lives”–but ignoring the facts is already wasting our time and our money!

Stockton has plenty of relevance to this discussion. They built an entertainment and sports complex (ESC) on their waterfront based on promises that it would bring all sorts of development that would increase tax revenue that would exceed its cost to the city. That ended up not being true, and became a major factor in Stockton’s current status as the largest American city ever to declare bankruptcy. In fact, during the run-up to the arena, some pro-arena folks brought up Stockton’s arena as a justification for Sacramento’s proposal–at least until the bankruptcy issue hit the papers. I’m sure you would rather not have people notice Stockton, or pay attention to their experience with their ESC, but it’s still true.

July 10, 2012 | 2:22 PM

Here’s a lesson in public finance from me, a retired redevelopment lawyer. Parking fees are public funds and although technically not taxes they are a public charge to citizens using public parking. One monetization plan is to sell bonds with a pledge to repay say ov
er 30 years using the money we pay for parking. That means that all the public parking revenue that would normally go to the general fund would go to pay bond holders. If revenues fallshort parking fees will go up or we may need to use general funds to pay the bonds. So the general fund loses money leading to future cop lay offs and parkong fees may need ro be raised. All the bond money goes to pay for the arena which will become obsolete in15-20 years.

ould normally go to
the general fund

July 6, 2012 | 5:23 PM

Dear Dave: Nice to see you have a job once again. Hope all is well. This arena thing has grown a bit tiresome for me since it clearly seems that no Angel will come forward to finance the thing and since Mayor KJ is as flighty as pretty girl in a promdress. Once plan A was clearly dead, it took him about two minutes in politico-time to dump the corsage, split the scene, light a smoke and say to hell with it. KJ is the fair-haired boy of local developers and is only concerned with doing their bidding. A boycott would simply play into the Maloofs’ hands and create another firestorm of bad press – possibly this time reflecting badly on the city. I say the City should build a large multi-use facility with indoor-outdoor capabilities like for baseball, soccer, team tennis, NCAA basketball, concerts, monster truck pulls, religious revivals, Ebay conventions, etc. The Maloofs can have Zero Bank Balance Pavilion.

July 6, 2012 | 6:44 PM

Part of the problem, apparently, is that if the City builds anything like an arena there’s a clause that allows the Maloofs to escape their c.$70m debt to the City. At some level they’re being pretty smart, from a pure investment perspective, in that if they can hold out long enough for the City to do that, they essentially make $70m in the process. And I suspect that if they feel forced out of the market by a boycott or anything else they can pin (in even the vaguest legal accusation) on the City’s action or inaction, they will also fight that loan repayment by claiming to have been damaged by the City in terms of their franchise’s value. I’d be willing to bet that they would make that claim already if push came to shove. And it’s important to any deal for relocation or sale of the team as it sidesteps a $70m hole they currently have to fill.

July 6, 2012 | 8:12 PM

Tony, at least you’re recognizing the situation with the Maloofs for what it is: a hostage situation. These guys have made it very clear that they are looking for one thing only, the biggest possible payday, and they couldn’t care less what damage they do in the process. George Maloof is a man with zero ethics. I know that this kind of “businessmen” are admired in some circles, but I personally think they’re the scum of the earth.

Two things I’m sure of in all of this is that the Maloofs are absolutely going to try to get out of their debt obligation to the city when they sell or move the team (even though the balance is due in full upon relocation), and that there is no way the NBA will let that happen. My hope is that no one in Seattle or Anaheim will be willing to pick up the tab on that loan in addition to the cost of the team and the relocation fee. I suspect we’ll find all that out in fairly short order, probably by next year’s relocation deadline in March.

July 6, 2012 | 9:47 PM

I think we agree on this aspect of the situation.

July 6, 2012 | 6:29 PM

Im tired of these idiots who say if we support the arena, we didnt read the term sheet… Supporters of an ESC may not agree, but do not act like you know more than another person, only because you started a fake news blog. Im sorry, but who are you to think you know more. Anyone can say “not with my tax dollars” “its a scam” “they are trying to steal from our children” without any support and ignoring all the tax benefit that would come from an ESC. If anyone applauds the Maloofs or gives them credit for “saving” Sacramento they have another agenda… Do everyone a favor, join FOX news and you will have a successfull career… Get over yourself. Somehow in this world, a 20yr old blogger who wants attention can stand up for cops that support the ESC. Njjj jj act as though you aceived a victory.

July 6, 2012 | 6:32 PM

Do not act as though you accomplished something.
Sacramento 1 – Random Kid with a blog – 0.

July 6, 2012 | 6:48 PM

Aren’t you “random person with a comment account’?

July 6, 2012 | 7:00 PM

Taking a step back from the name calling, Isaac does have credibility on this issue. His personal opinion may not be shared by everybody, anymore than Carmichael Dave’s is – but they have both been identified by the editorial staff at SacPress as being worthwhile sources of commentary on this subject, having both followed the story quite closely from the start. Again, that doesn’t make either of them right or represent an endorsement of their opinions, but this growing community news organization has decided that their opinions are worth hearing and sharing and that represents some degree of respect for these community members. If you happen to agree with one of them and not the other, which ever way around that might be, it’s worth remembering that both of them, along with a couple of other sources, are being included in this roundup of opinion for the same reason.

July 6, 2012 | 8:24 PM

Sorry, Tony, I think it’s clear why Isaac is being included in this. He’s literally the only local media member that is an identifiable opponent of the ESC. There’s a reason why he was the one that the Maloofs decided to leak sensitive materials to: there was absolutely no one else with any kind of significant soapbox that would be sympathetic, and they could trust that he lacked the ability to process them through any kind of critical filter (thank you, Isaac, for printing those in full. Nothing tightens the noose around the Maloofs’ necks more than their own words. Best backfire ever).

July 6, 2012 | 9:27 PM

“He’s literally the only local media member that is an identifiable opponent of the ESC.”

This in and of itself has been a problem – it seems to have been a cheerleading squad. There have been entire aspects of the story that have been ignored along the way – I couldn’t get any interest from the Bee about, for example, the impact that a change in parking operator might have had on downtown businesses that are reliant on the City’s parking validation program. Clearly, the City has a far more vested interested in the success of local small businesses than an external operator would have.

But the single worst aspect of the deal, which you seem to agree with, was that one of the parties involved seems entirely untrustworthy.

July 6, 2012 | 9:51 PM

*ahem*

“He’s literally the only local media member that is an identifiable opponent of the ESC.”–Mike333637

This statement is literally not true.

The Sacramento News & Review had plenty of criticism of the arena plan, via columnist Cosmo Garvin and new co-editor Nick Miller:

http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/back-to-the-arena-future/content?oid=5827002

http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/snog/blogs/post?oid=5332722

http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/kings-arena-deal-still-has/content?oid=5378616

Even the Bee, whose columnists spent most of their time fawning over the arena plan, published editorials by those critical of the arena plan like Bruce Maiman:

http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/28/4295920/looking-for-straight-talk-in-new.html#storylink=misearch

Nor was Isaac the only voice in the local “blogosphere” critical of the arena plan:

http://www.thinksmartsacramento.blogspot.com/

http://gameto100.com/?cat=176

http://devinlavelle.com/category/sacramento/arena/

July 6, 2012 | 10:05 PM

The other example that came to mind, although not routinely a writer, was the piece by Ron Cooper, the Exec Director of Access Sacramento – wasn’t that the article that won the Journalism Open here at SacPress? In which case it’s not like they wouldn’t know they had access to other opinions on that side of the argument.

July 7, 2012 | 9:10 PM

Actually, if you’re going to talk about sensitive information, this was the noose (from Sac News and Review):

In an excerpt from the email—which was revealed in slide 16 of the Maloof PowerPoint presentation last Friday in New York City—the NBA’s Benjamin wrote: “Several of the points you make are agreeable to the city, but they say they cannot put the provisions you want into the document at this time.”

They could not be included “for political reasons,” Benjamin wrote.

One city official, who spoke to SN&R on background, said they were attempting to “peel away the layers” as to what “political reasons” might mean.

For instance, were the Maloof’s concerns with the term sheet suppressed to make the deal look more sound, helping secure the five votes needed from city council members?

Was it done to make the arena pact appear less shaky?

Or, as this same official pondered, was it possible that the NBA and the mayor’s office streamlined the term sheet without the Maloofs’ concerns so as to get it passed by council and discourage any worthy adversaries from running against Mayor Johnson, who is up for re-election this June?

http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/snog/blogs/post?oid=5770993

The article is titled: Let’s fake a deal?

July 6, 2012 | 8:08 PM

“I can tell you from my perspective that I have no lack of an energy reservoir when it comes to this, and I don’t care if we have to start over 12 times.” Carmichael Dave

It is this kind of passion and drive that makes great things happen — whether you are talking sports teams, technology ventures, successful political campaigns, or Olympic Gold! No matter which side you are on regarding the future of the Kings or the building of an ESC, you have to applaud the handful of citizens who took action for something they truly believed in 18 months ago and ignited a grassroots campaign that astonished the sports world. Without the “Here We Stay” campaign, we’d likely have already lost the Kings and few citizens would be engaged in these discussions about how to make Sacramento a more economically viable community. Sacramento should be so proud that we have raised citizens who will stand up for what matters to them and try to do something about it. It is a wonderful lesson for future generations. And remember, Rocky Balboa lost the first big fight but it was his determination that garnered our awe and respect! (hum the Rocky theme music now)

July 6, 2012 | 9:37 PM

Well said, Laura. I’m extremely proud of my fellow Sacramentans for the heart they’ve shown in this whole process.

July 6, 2012 | 10:07 PM

I think that’s true on both sides of the debate – regardless of opinion, the level of engagement has been high and laudable.

July 10, 2012 | 2:38 PM

Please remember the passion of the people who moved to a blighted mid-town and downtown in the 1960′s and through pilitical action and sweat restored the victorian homes and fought for historic preservation in Old Sac and the railyards. It is their efforts that made Midtown and downtown the exiting liveble place it is. The railyards are vacant because they are polluted. Investment will come if we stick with the small scale, liveable, walkable plan for the railyards. Keep the arena in Natomas

July 6, 2012 | 8:26 PM

Oh, man, that debate is going to be awesome. If you’re smart, Isaac, you’ll come down with the flu that day. Guess that means I should plan on tuning-in.

July 7, 2012 | 12:55 PM

You don’t have to agree with Isaac. But why belittle him?

July 7, 2012 | 12:57 PM

My guess is because that’s what they pay him to do.

July 7, 2012 | 12:53 PM

Carmichael Dave keeps talking about “the people” and “people”. Which “people” does he have in mind? The people who voted against using public funds to “gamble” on an arena the profits for which would go to private companies while the City of Sacramento would be paying the bills? Those people?

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