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Plan for $386m arena lacks financing details

Rendering for a new Sacramento arena.

Arena developers are expected to unveil plans to build a new Sacramento arena, reportedly at a cost of $386 million, at a special City Council meeting Thursday – but they’re not sure how to finance it just yet.

The ICON-Taylor team will discuss the possible design, amenities, location and cost to construct an arena in a 1 p.m. presentation at City Hall.

The team’s feasibility analysis determined that both public and private financing will be required for the project. Without either, the project wouldn’t be feasible, according to a staff report released Wednesday.

Sacramento County voters rejected a plan to build a $600 million, 1 million-square-foot arena in 2006. The city also chose not to work with developers who proposed $600 million projects at a February 8 City Council meeting. The Icon-Taylor team is expected to reveal plans for an arena that is less than 700,000 square feet in size.

Arena supporters, including the Sacramento Kings’ owners, are likely to have an easier time getting support for public financing because the new plan will be scaled down in cost and size, Sacramento City Councilman Rob Fong said Wednesday.

"If we’re starting with a smaller number to begin with, the task is not as great," Fong said. "Anything we can do to make sure we’re being efficient, I think, is a plus."

Despite repeated requests from the city, the Maloofs – who control a majority share of the team – didn’t turn over revenue information until after announcing May 2 they would keep the team in Sacramento another year. The Maloofs reportedly turned over financial statements just last week.

The developers were given 90 days to study the viability of building a new arena in Sacramento. The deadline was later extended to May 26.

The team won’t be able to provide the council with a list of financing options developed specifically for the Sacramento region as expected, according to the staff report.

"Given that the proprietary financial data of the Sacramento Kings was not made available to the ICON-Taylor team until 80 days into the analysis, coupled with the city’s focus on addressing its fiscal year budget and the need to integrate regional components beyond the scope of the work plan, the feasibility study is confined to identifying an appropriate financing model and not providing a specific financing plan," staff wrote in the report.

The analysis is expected to include cost comparisons based on whether a new arena is built on city land at the downtown railyards or on land in Natomas adjacent to or on the site of the Kings’ current home, Power Balance Pavilion.

City staff posted a graphic rendering of a swank new arena located in the railyards from global design firm Populous’ graphic on the city website Wednesday afternoon. (Link to city website)

The council is being asked to give city staff 100 days to review the developers’ study and then report back to the council.

The city manager will set up a technical review team of at least nine people, including the heads of several city departments, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Sacramento Regional Transit, Sacramento County and sports facility consultants the city may hire to assist with the evaluation.

In February, at least two teams vying to develop a new arena estimated the cost to build an arena and surrounding infrastructure and supporting development such as hotels, restaurants and retail to be at least $600 million. The ICON-Taylor team was chosen to conduct a feasibility study after its leaders said they expected an arena wouldn’t cost much more than $300 million.

Once the report has been presented to the city, staff will work with other government agencies in the area to develop financing options.

City Treasurer Russ Fehr said Wednesday he couldn’t comment until the council directs staff to work on the project.

Former Kings star Chris Webber said early this month he’s putting together a team of investors to fund a new arena. On Tuesday, a story surfaced saying Webber met recently in Sacramento with potential investors including Manny Pangilinan, chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and owner of two Philippine Basketball Association teams.

A tour of Power Balance Pavilion reportedly took place. Pangilinan was quoted by an English-language daily in the Phillipines, Cebu Daily News, saying he would want to own a majority stake in the Kings if he invests in the team.

The Maloofs could not be reached for comment. Representatives of Maloof Sports and Entertainment said they weren’t aware of such a tour.

"I wouldn’t comment on that," said Darrin May, executive director of media relations for the Kings.

Council members are eager to learn more about what an arena might cost and how it will be paid for, Councilman Kevin McCarty said.

"The overarching question … is, what’s the path to paying for that?" McCarty said. "I’m still waiting, and I think the rest of the city is waiting, too, to see what that looks like." 


Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on  Twitter @SuzanneHurt.

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