More arena questions being asked – some of which sound familiar

In an extensive article in the Sacramento News & Review (SN&R) this week, the following can be found: ““You’ve got to ask, ’Could we do something else with that $258 million?’ Politically, that’s not a very appealing question, and no one asks it,” says Propheter. He says dollar for dollar, the city would probably be better off making investments to promote small business.” Geoffrey Propheter is a George Washington University Ph.D. candidate with expertise in sports facility funding. That same question was posed here in March – and it’s still a valid and reasonable question getting very little attention. As has also been mentioned here before, $250,000,000 could provide 100 x $100,000 in small business development grants every year for 25 years. And that’s only accounting for the initial investment – if you allow for the total costs over the life of the loan (cited in various local articles as closer to $700,000,ooo) the number of such grants could be almost tripled. And people were excited when only one such grant was awarded recently as part of a business development competition in Downtown. The other aspect of all of this that still gets very little press is that the loan payoff plan takes 35 years – for a facility that, if typical of similar facilities, will most likely need to be replaced or extensively renovated after […]

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AUDIO: Downtown arena debate

We’ve seen both sides of the downtown arena debate rhetorically duel it out through the media, but today they met in person in a debate hosted by The Sacramento Press Club at the Boiler Steakhouse. Joshua Wood of the pro-arena groups Regional Builders and DowntownArena.org squared off against arena opponent and political consultant Tab Berg. The debate was moderated by Ryan “City Beat” Lillis of the Sacramento Bee. Here’s the audio of the event. It begins with an introduction by Brian Joesph, the president of The Sacramento Press Club:

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Downtown dreams: Housing and the arena

As Nick Miller points out in this week’s SNR, “These are new times for K Street.” “The Kay,” as it was rebranded last year, can boast an upswing in patrons at local restaurants, an active nightlife, public murals, the return of The Crest’s iconic neon sign – and perhaps a new arena is around the corner (if Macy’s and the King’s ownership can strike a deal or time. Yesterday, the talks entered "hardball status: the King’s ownership said they may ask the city to threaten to use eminent domain to seize the last remming parcel needed for the arena.) In addition to the arena, CFY Development, led by Ali Youssefi, has a $48 million project in the cooker to transform the 700 block of K Street. The overall strategy mirrors a 1969 attempt to revitalize the area, detailed in William Burg’s book Sacramento’s K Street – when the city used redevelopment funds to turn the area into “K Street Mall.” “But K Street could not overcome the basic problems of a downtown shopping district in the era of suburban malls,” writes Burg. Burg feels it’s not an arena that will make this recent spike in activity (and revenue) sustainable. Without funding for more housing, Burg feels the plan will flop. Right now, the downtown population is almost down to half what it was in the […]

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Precedent, what precedent? The Kings are staying

As the Bee recently covered, the NBA very rarely blocks teams looking to move cities. There is only one example in modern history, when the NBA blocked the Timberwolves proposed move to New Orleans in 1994. What’s more, the decision appears to be based more on financial problems with the new ownership group, rather than the two cities. But today, the NBA appears set to declare that a personal grudge and a bit of money does not speak louder than a loyal fan base and motivated host city. The relocation committee recommended the NBA deny the Hansen group’s bid to move the Kings to Seattle to replace their recently departed Supersonics. While the NBA rejecting a move initiated by a quality ownership group is unprecedented, it is perhaps more significant that no city as large as Seattle has ever lost a team and not seen it replaced. All told, eleven reasonably large American cities have lost teams over the history of the NBA. With Seattle still without a team, seven of the eleven have now replaced. Precedent suggests that there is a very good chance they would get a new team in the future, perhaps quite quickly. The circumstances of the NBA’s cities that lost teams vary dramatically. Some were relics of a different era, when the economics of the league allowed for much smaller […]

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Voters want to vote (for a downtown arena)

“Players wanna play, Ballers wanna ball, Rollers wanna roll …” and voters want to vote. As the Field Poll (California’s long running, highly reputable independent polling service) said of Californians, “Voters also think that the voting public rather than their elected representatives ‘can be trusted more often to do what is right on important government issues’ (63% to 24%) and ‘are better suited to decide upon large-scale government programs and projects’ (57% to 33%).” In this context, it should come as no surprise that a new poll released by Tab Communications that showed nearly 80% of Sacramento voters would like to vote on the arena plan. (Tab Communications is a conservative political consulting firm.) Tab Berg, Its principle was drawn into a small twitter war with the Mayor’s spokesman, Steve Maviglio over Tab’s perceived biases. Or, as Maviglio put it, “Note @ryan_lillis @dakasler the poll is promoted by pro-referendum consultant @tabberg #notexactlyGallup.” Berg previously editorialized in the Bee in favor of a referendum and lists one of his clients as ‘Stop the Arena Tax’, so it is likely fair to assume he has a point of view, which he does not dispute, “stevenmaviglio @Ryan_Lillis @dakasler Its been fully disclosed every time – does having an opinion preclude you from being objective.” What I find more interesting is that a small plurality, although within the polls rather […]

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The $250 Million Challenge: Downtown Streetcar Corridor

Yesterday, Sacramento Press contributor Tony Sheppard challenged fellow readers and contributors to share what they would do with a theoretical $250 million, in a way that might bring a greater return than a basketball arena. I started writing a comment but, as often happens, it ended up being an article in itself. So here it is. Step 1: Build the Downtown/Riverfront Streetcar: $130 Million. Streetcars are often called "development-oriented transit" because they promote growth of transit-oriented neighborhoods along their right-of-way. Portland is the canonical example of a new city streetcar line spurring growth in the "Pearl" District, a mostly vacant industrial district until installation of a streetcar line, and today Portland’s most densely populated neighborhood.  Their investment of $89 million prompted $2.5 billion in private development. Tampa, Florida’s TECO line has spurred $600 million in additional public projects and $700 million in private investment. The cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento cooperated on a draft streetcar plan in 2008, and revised that draft plan in 2011, approving a route from West Sacramento’s city hall over the Tower Bridge, north to the Sacramento Valley Station and the edge of the Railyards, back down K Street through the heart of Downtown, and ending up at 19th and K Street in Midtown Sacramento. The project had an estimated cost of $125-135 million. The Memorandum of Understanding between the […]

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Opinion: What else could $250M buy us?

Let’s come at this from another perspective. And just in case I sound like I’m anti-arena, I’m not – I’m just inclined to be wary of public spending on developments of this nature as they rarely pan out. Money often gets made, but it’s not by the city or municipality involved. Deals are made that involve fabulously wealthy people who generally get wealthier (the Maloofs being bad examples) with public assistance. And if the overall business proposition involved was so appealing, there would be private investors lined up around City Hall, bidding on the opportunity to build an arena and operate it. The only time recently we’ve had that kind of rush to bid on something was when the city proposed selling off parking as a private concession – precisely because it was good for the private enterprises rather than for the city. So here we have $250 million taxpayer dollars (or their equivalent in terms of city-owned land) being thrown into a deal that is essentially a business startup for a small group of very wealthy private investor/operators who want to operate one of the most exclusive business franchises in the country. And that money covers more than half of the startup and development costs. And the initial question is simply "Does it make sense?" For all of the energy and eagerness that has […]

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Arena plan puts the ‘king’ in parking

In order to build a downtown arena, Sacramentans will have to give up that which they hold dearest: free parking. The funding plan requires expansion of on-street metering downtown, and will increase parking rates at city lots. The arena’s presence dramatically changes the economics of private parking lots, in ways that threaten the main funding source for the arena. By releasing the term sheet at the absolute last minute, on a Saturday night, followed by a Monday city holiday and a crashed City of Sacramento website, the opportunity for public review is so limited that it is effectively nonexistent. Three days is simply not enough time for a detailed look at the term sheet, but it was sufficient to find a major flaw in the funding plan. Arena Construction Funded by Parking Plan The city’s contribution to the arena plan includes $38 million in private land given to the arena developers, the $5 million in Sheraton MOPA Fund money, and $212.5 million in bonds to be repaid by future parking revenues. What repays those future parking revenues? The city’s public-owned parking spaces downtown, both city-owned lots and street parking. Today, the city owns 5721 on-street parking spaces between F Street, P Street, Front Street and 17th Street, and 8580 spaces in city-owned lots and parking structures, for a total of 14786 city spaces. Of those […]

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Downtown arena open house – live blog

The City of Sacramento  held open house on the plans to build a downtown arena Thursday at 5:30 pm to 7:30pm in the New City Hall Foyer. Here’s how the meeting went down on Twitter: Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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Lights, Camera, Fashion: The Evolution of Sacramento Fashion Week

Lights, camera, fashion is all the buzz to be heard around the Emerald City as it kicked off its seventh annual Sacramento Fashion Week http://sacfashionweek.com/, February 24 – March 2. Growing in attendance each year since its launch in 2006, we have been able to watch fashion in Sacramento transition from adopted trends from nearby cities and magazines to developing designers and fashionistas with inimitable style. SACFW Editor in Chief, Bridgett Rex explained that SACFW allows us to educate our community about fashion and style, creating a demand for people to become more interested and eager to engage in fashion. “With events like Sacramento Fashion Week, the community becomes more educated about fashion and more knowledgeable and curious to learn the business; they begin applying everything they see during SACFW to their own style and business,” Rex said. “I think having SACFW mixers, our Fashion Affairs, every third Wednesday of the month, helps to create a discussion about fashion and style, which in turn slowly changes our wardrobe.” This year marked the third consecutive year the designer showcase sold-out of tickets. Even more exciting, this is the first year SACFW made strides connecting with the community with increasing demand from local media, bloggers, stylist and supporting businesses to attend. “Our biggest improvement this year was media coverage and community support. With the development of new alliances […]

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