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If you have lived in Sacramento for any length of time, you will know that Arco Arena (excuse me, Power Balance Pavilion) is on borrowed time. Though it is only 25 years old, the arena was built "on the cheap" - a short term solution for the Sacramento Kings while the city could figure out a long-term solution. Well, my friends... that day is here. The City Council is trying to devise a way to pay for a $600 million arena in a faltering economy. No small feat, but it's not impossible.
What's Wrong With Arco
Arco Arena, while acceptable for many fans - is not acceptable by modern standards. Several notable event promoters such as
Beyonce and the NCAA March Madness tournament committee have gone as far as tell us they will never play in Sacramento again. The concourse is narrow, luxury suites are few, and simply stated, the place is a barn compared to other cities. Arco is a hard sell to any basketball player who is used to playing in newer facilities - the Maloofs do what they can, but if we want the Kings to attract talent - we have to offer more than the incredible nightlife of Old Sacramento.
Who's Paying: How it Would Work
Estimates at building an arena vary, but $600 million is the most common number to the costs involved. The Maloofs have already stated they will lease for 30 years at $300million. That's half. Naming rights can fetch up to $60million. $240 million can be paid through a tourism tax. Yes... a tax.
Before you put on the brakes, let's take a visit to Orlando. Orlando used to play in a similar arena to Sacramento - it was built in 1989 and just wasn't meeting the needs of today's fans. They passed a tourism tax on hotels and rental cars to help pay for the new arena which was just opened. Taxpayers are technically paying for it - but not those who live there. When you as a Sacramento resident visit Orlando, your vacation dollars help pay for this arena. For Orlando residents, it's practically a free arena.
Think it can't happen in California? Think again. The San Franciso 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara is being financed through a tourism tax as well. Tourism taxes are quite popular in most cities, yet Sacramento has not capitalized on it.
Who Would Get The Revenue From the Arena?
In Orlando, The City of Orlando collects revenue from non-NBA games, while the Magic get all the NBA games. There's no reason a similar deal can't be struck here. The Maloofs still benefit because they could have a better facility to draw NBA talent and can sell more luxury boxes to corporate sponsors; however the city of Sacramento doesn't lose out on revenue at the other 200 events a year. What's more, a better facility means an instant attendance boost and a major selling point to attracting (and retaining) NBA talent.
A new arena downtown in the railyard would be built near light rail and right off the freeway. It's more centrally located for many, including most who live south of the city and on the 50 corridor, where they would drive 10 less minutes than Arco. Traffic was a concern for AT&T Park in San Francisco as well, and they have handled it very well.
The Natomas issue
I realize a new arena downtown will be a major blow to Natomas. Many restaurants in the area rely on this regular traffic to drive business. However this may be our last chance at building an arena. If the Natomas crowd puts up a public fight on the arena, it could kill the whole project - and bring down the Kings with it. Natomas is a strong community… there is no reason they can't concentrate on building a theme park or another large facility on Arco land. Please support the arena, no matter where it's built.
Money that Could Be Spent Elsewhere
I have heard quite a few cries about an arena for billionaires being built, while it could be better spent on homeless, police, or schools. I would argue that without an arena and without the Kings, I honestly doubt Sacramento will magically lose these problems. In fact, without the Arena and the Kings, I would argue this city would be far less desirable for businesses to move to - for the lack of entertainment would make Sacramento undesirable.
I ask all of Sacramento to give this one a shot. If it comes to a tourism tax, what do we have to lose? You may come up with some reason why you don't like it, but you have to see the bigger picture... is it really worth losing the Kings over? Is it really worth not having a major venue for first-class entertainment in Sacramento? Let's not cut off our nose in spite of our face - we have a great opportunity to cement this city for generations. Let's get it done!