Mayor Kevin Johnson press conference: Sacramento Kings and the state of the city – as it happened

Mayor Kevin Johnson during a press conference in 2012.

Mayor Kevin Johnson’s press conference and update on the King’s situation is now over. Listen to the audio and read our live coverage as it happened below.

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February 5, 2013 | 1:23 PM

Johnson needs to leave it alone. There’s more important issues that need our attention than supporting the rich.

February 5, 2013 | 2:23 PM

Who are you calling rich? Having a NBA team here creates many jobs. When they go so do the jobs. People need to understand that it’s not just about sports or millionaire owners and players. Would they say the same thing if we were talking about HP, Blue Diamond or an agency of the State of California? A job is a job is a job.

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February 5, 2013 | 2:40 PM

So, when are we going to start subsidizing almonds?

February 5, 2013 | 3:48 PM

Actually we have.

February 5, 2013 | 7:55 PM

No, it’s just about sports, millionaire owners and players…and also about developers who build arenas. Having an NBA team here doesn’t actually expand the total entertainment economy, it just moves it from one part of the market to another, with no net positive effect on the economy.

Here’s a recent article on the subject: “Money-Wise, Stadiums and Super Bowls Don’t Benefit Cities”

Sports stadiums are not infrastructure, nor are they a production facility like HP or Blue Diamond, or even a regulatory organization like state agencies. They’re part of the entertainment economy, and the entertainment economy tends to remain static unless other factors (like jobs in sectors other than entertainment) increase the amount of money people have to spend on entertainment. If a sports team leaves a city, the entertainment economy stays about the same, but it is spent elsewhere…but because entertainment venues other than sports stadiums are generally locally owned, more of the money spent on entertainment stays in the local economy, which is better for that economy than a stadium where most of the money gets siphoned off to the non-local corporate owner.

Oh yeah, and almonds aren’t subsidized.
“Most of the crops that fuel the state’s $29-billion farm machine–grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines, strawberries, almonds, walnuts and vegetables of every hue–don’t get a penny of aid. They aren’t eligible.”

February 5, 2013 | 9:08 PM

I don’t buy your arguments. Anyone can find articles that support your point of view. A lot of money generated by the Kings is coming from outside of the city. If the Kings leave that money might be spent elsewhere but less likely it will be spent in the city. Maybe your idea of ‘local’ is different than mine. Oh yeah, Blue Diamond has received large subsidies from the city of Sacramento, as well as permission to permanently block off three city streets.

February 5, 2013 | 10:37 PM

Blue Diamond is the world’s #1 almond producer, and actually produces a useful product. The Kings, not so much. And while it’s possible to find studies that say arenas are a good idea, they are paid for by people who make money building arenas. Peer-reviewed studies with some claim to objectivity tend to say things like “In terms of economic benefit, dropping the money on the city from a helicopter is more effective than spending it to build an arena.”

February 6, 2013 | 9:36 AM

Lets say for a moment that building an arena downtown doesn’t grow the local entertainment economy pie. Ok, fine. But clearly, LOSING the Kings would shrink the local entertainment economy…not tank it, it’s a vibrant local scene…but shink it. Another major buisness lost. Another brick off the wall. Another PR disaster for Sacramento…most importantly in the eyes of the coastal moneyed elites…those that decide where the flow of credit and debt goes, and where the jobs go.

February 6, 2013 | 12:58 PM

No, actually, it wouldn’t shrink the local entertainment economy. The entertainment economy tends to be based on a relatively inflexible percentage of the local economy. The amount people spend per household tends to remain static, and statistics from periods of major-league team strikes bear this out. They just spend the money on other forms of recreation and entertainment, rather than not entertaining themselves at all.

Being willing to sink our city budget to support an arena won’t impress the coastal elites, who have higher standards for their own arena projects. San Francisco turned down four different sports stadium proposals before getting one that required minimal public investment–basically just the cost of land. Seattle passed an ordinance requiring that the private sector carry the burden for future arena proposals, not the city. The short-term result was a so-called PR disaster in the short term, but by holding out for something better they are getting ready to scoop up the Kings and a privately financed arena. Having standards is not a vice–it’s how big cities work.

February 6, 2013 | 10:18 AM

“Blue Diamond is the world’s #1 almond producer, and actually produces a useful product. The Kings, not so much.” That’s purely a subjective analysis. Who be the ‘peers’ of which you speak?

Look, I’m not saying I’m a Kings fan or support a new downtown arena. I’m just really tired of hearing so many people in Sacramento refuse to recognize the economic benefits of having the Kings here because they don’t give a d*mn about professional basketball/sports, they hate the Maloofs, resent the money involved.

There’s a strong streak of “anti-ism” in Sacramento- people who stand against positive ideas simply because they hate the people who believe in the idea or they resent anything they personally don’t derive a benefit from or have an interest in. There’s a lot of reverse snobs here- people overly proud of being apathetic and dull, who belittle those with superior abilities, education, social standing. They resent anything and anyone who stands out from the crowd and take a perverse pleasure in being the underdog, the janky -inferior, undesirable city held in low regard. Their motto is “I don’t give a sh*t.” We know.

February 6, 2013 | 10:42 AM

Sorry Mark, your opinion of “anit-ism” avoids the data just released showing something else….In light of the economic downturn and “living within ones means”….Sacramento ranks high as a frugal city, No 9 to be exact… While the data centers around coupon usage…the economics and mentality of coupons centers around getting more bang for the buck.

Being frugal is not being cheap….or negative…..its called sensible!

Sacramento lands on most frugal cities list

Additionally as William points out….the objective, non-invested academic reports on arenas and stadiums as economic engines…..little if any ROI and in worst case scenarios….economic “ball and chains” on Cities & Counties general funds & debt loads.

February 6, 2013 | 2:05 PM

Sorry 5th gen but Sacramento is cheap, and was cheap even before the economic downturn. You can spin it anyway you want. Call it sensible if you like. Everyone else knows the truth. We have an embarrassing deficiency of public and private amenities compared to cities of equal size. This helps to secure our city’s reputation as a dull town. In fact, many cities half our size do better. Why is that? Because you get what you pay for. Our lack of investment hurts the economy, drives local talent out of the region and discourages outside talent and investment from coming in. But keep telling yourself how wonderful and sensible you and your neighbors are. After you’re the only one’s listening.

BTW academic reports are hardly objective. They often funded by people who are competing for those tax dollars.

February 6, 2013 | 10:00 PM

Studies published in academic journals are peer-reviewed, meaning other economists are given the opportunity to review the data and verify or challenge the author’s conclusions before the review is published–thus, “peer review.” The studies I’m talking about are done by academic economists who don’t gain monetarily from telling people not to build arenas, nor are they competing for tax dollars.

The pro-arena studies like the “Think Big” plan are invariably done by groups who are trying to promote construction of an arena, which puts them in roughly the same category as the studies done by cigarette companies that claimed there was no link between cigarettes and lung cancer. In Sacramento’s case, the “Think Big” study was funded directly by the Maloofs.

I’m no fan of the Maloofs, but here are some guys who apparently have a big old axe to grind with them:

“As their bizarre press conference laid bare for all to see, dealing with the Maloofs is like dealing with the North Koreans— except they are less competent,”–Chris Lehane, executive director of Think Big.

“In Maloof-world, facts are fiction; truths are half-truths; and promises are broken promises.”–Kevin Johnson.

“I am writing to ask the justice department to determine whether any federal criminal laws have been broken by the Maloof family. The idea that a professional sports team’s ownership group would target its own fans, including prominent and respected local business leaders who are financial supporters of the team, is simply unconscionable.”–Chris Lehane, in a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, calling for an FBI investigation of the Maloofs

“George Maloof, the ‘smart’ one of the family who turned a 98 percent share of the Palms Casino into 2 percent, leads them. Dude thinks he’s Michael Corleone form “Godfather” fame when in fact he is Fredo.”–Marcos Breton, Bee sportswriter

“I don’t really have a comment on that. It’s very obvious who can’t be trusted in this scenario,”–Kevin Johnson, about comments made by George Maloof regarding the previous arena deal

February 7, 2013 | 10:43 AM

Great point on dull town Sacramento. But I think you are asking Sacramento city management and business culture to run before it has even showed that it can walk. Historically our city has gravitated towards incredibly provincial, neighborhood-centric leadership. To his credit Kevin Johnson has brought a more worldly vision to Sacramento, although still far too narrowly focused on arenas and basketball.

We are not an Austin TX just waiting for the right conditions to bust out of our shell. It would be a leap for our city to even operation with the same enterprise as Sacramento County or neighboring suburbs.

I am encouraged that the arena / Kings discussion has shined a lot on the need for economic development. But I am concerned that it is so narrowly focused, and that the city has not even considered what competing uses for the $320M in financing might be able to provide.

February 6, 2013 | 2:56 PM

Perhaps it time that the taxpaying public of this “dull” “little” town create the Sacramento Chapter of

Citizens For More Important Things…..and start their own little initiative to insure a guaranteed return-on-investment…..on any and all public contributions to these arena and stadium venues.

So does the city really have a guaranteed source for that 255 million contribution that Mayor Johnson states we have? Without the city having to finance it?

So even if the city keeps control of the parking through the issuance of revenue bonds issued against parking garage, lots, meters and enforcement revenues…..isn’t 10 million dollars immediately diverted away from the general fund, annually, just to pay toward those bonds?

So what is the prospective financing cost of 255 million? In real dollars without any fancy smancy financing tricks that delay the true cost of those bonds. Just go back and look at the real cost to taxpayers on the early days of the 1997 lease revenue bonds for the acquisition of ARCO….that still have about 120 million outstanding in loan payments through 2027.

February 6, 2013 | 3:58 PM

What I am not seeing in the above comments is the realization that an arena is not just used for entertainment it will attract much more to the capital city. Do you think the democratic convention would of been held in Charlotte if they didn’t have Time Warner arena? People need to get past the thought that this is just entertainment.

February 6, 2013 | 6:43 PM

Our mayor is an embarrassment. The only time you seem to see this guy in the news or hear about him is when he is either talking about the Kings or his strong mayor initiative. We have FAR more important things that need to be addressed in this city. For example, homelessness. Is Mayor Johnson doing ANYTHING AT ALL about this problem? Because I see no progress since he’s been in office. People in Midtown are getting MUGGED at gunpoint. What is Mayor Johnson doing to address this issue? This guy is a JOKE. Thankfully I didn’t vote for him. Mayor Johnson, stop kissing the Maloof brothers’ behinds and get to work.

February 7, 2013 | 1:03 PM

I’m in Seattle and the folks I’m with all want an expansion team. I was 8 years old when the Sonics were formed and they were our team. The only way we get that back is with a new team. The Kings in Sonics gear just will not work for me. K.J. if you’re listening throw an expansion team idea at the owners when you talk to them please. Like you keep your team and we get an expansion team as a pay-off. Keep basketball in both cities that have proved beyond any doubt that they can support it. I think solutions are just too simple at times for big-shots to comprehend.

February 8, 2013 | 1:24 PM

To borrow a line (from L. T. Ulrich), and revise it to this argument – “well-behaved cities seldom make history.”

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