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Arena bus tour rolls out to region

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The arena campaign committee, Think BIG Sacramento, hosted a four-county bus tour Thursday to spread the message that a new sports and entertainment facility will benefit not just the city of Sacramento but the entire region.

The group released a "Capitol Corridor Impact Report" showing 55 percent of the people going to basketball games and other events at the Sacramento Kings’ current facility come from outside Sacramento County. And almost 75 percent live outside the city, committee Executive Director Chris Lehane said Thursday at a press conference in El Dorado Hills.

The report was compiled using three years’ statistics from the National Basketball Association. Actual numbers of arena customers weren’t provided, Lehane said.

In addition, new funding concepts are being considered by the group’s finance committee. One might tie agreements for corporate sponsorships, ads and luxury seats with contracts for those businesses to sell regional products such as wine, fruit or nuts at the facility, committee member Kevin Nagle said.

"Remember to ‘Think BIG,’ buy regional and fight on so we can make this a reality," said Nagle, president of Ohio-based Envision Pharmaceutical Services, which has a location in El Dorado Hills.

The press conference was held in front of the tour bus, pulled up outside the El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce in the El Dorado Hills Town Center. Thursday morning, about 30 people took the black limo bus from the Kings arena, Power Balance Pavilion, in Natomas to El Dorado Hills.

The group was made up of Lehane and one other Think BIG member, Kings sponsors, community and business leaders, Mayor Kevin Johnson’s staff, a Maloof Sports and Entertainment employee, Kings dance team members and two new members of the committee’s citizens’ initiative, dubbed "citizen architects."

The figures provided in the report show many people who live outside Sacramento would benefit from a new arena. People living outside the city are also expected to get a large share of the 3,700 construction jobs that would be created, because local construction companies will be used, Lehane said.

Power Balance Pavilion draws about 55 percent of its customers from 15 counties outside Sacramento County.

About 29 percent live in the other five counties in the six-county region. However, a large number come from elsewhere in Northern California. Residents of San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus and Contra Costa counties make up 22 percent of the people at games and other events, according to the report.

Johnson and other elected officials, as well as arena campaign committee members, believe more people will be drawn from outside the region if a new arena with more plush facilities is built, Lehane said.

A ticket fee is being considered as one of many options to help fund the arena through a combination of public and private investment, Nagle and Lehane said.

One of the newest ideas is to showcase products and services from businesses located throughout the region at the new arena in exchange for financial support. That financial support might be given by businesses that advertise or become corporate sponsors at the new arena, or that buy club seats or luxury suites, Nagle said.

Arena contracts for products and services could lead to more jobs throughout the area, he said.

Lehane described Nagle as a "key" member of the arena campaign committee – someone who stepped up to offer financial support to keep the Kings in Sacramento at the start of the effort last winter, when Johnson went before the NBA. Nagle was one of the first to view a new arena as a regional asset, and he has encouraged community support at arena meetings, Lehane said.

“Not only has he talked the talk. He has walked the walk,” Lehane added. “This is someone who, in and of himself, has helped make a huge difference in this effort. (He) and the mayor have run a pretty good two-man game over the course of this process."

Two people on the bus were "citizen architect" Troy Bedal and his 8-year-old daughter, Saraya. The Roseville residents were celebrating birthdays Thursday.

A Sports Authority store manager, Bedal said he’s been a Kings fan since birth 30 years ago. His parents were Kings fans who watched games on TV and took him to his first game at Arco Arena when he was just 6 or 7. He talks about the need for a new arena to friends and coworkers all the time, he said.

City officials have initiated an effort to integrate plans for a new arena with an adjacent future regional transit center.

The bus later stopped at a construction site at UC Davis, the Fountains at Roseville shopping center and Vision Service Providers in Rancho Cordova. A town hall meeting was held there late Thursday afternoon.

The arena campaign committee will hold more meetings, a design contest and a town hall meeting in Natomas later this summer to continue reaching out to people about the impact an arena could have throughout the area, Lehane said.

“At the end of the day, it’s obviously critical to keep the Kings in Sacramento because they are a lynchpin to hopefully being able to develop this facility,” he said. “But this has always been much more than just about a single professional basketball team or a single professional sports franchise. This has been about an economic opportunity to transform the region.” 


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

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  • Isaac Gonzalez

    Who is paying for the bus rental?

  • William Burg

    From http://www.fieldofschemes.com:


    Sacramento study shows $690m in arena losses

    So it looks as if the big news during my hiatus was the release of a study by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s arena task force that claims $7 billion in economic benefits from a new Kings arena:

    Advocates of a new downtown Sacramento sports arena rolled out a study Thursday that puts an eye-popping number on the building’s projected economic benefits: $7 billion over 30 years.

    [The study] said the new facility would shower the region with $157 million a year. That includes spinoffs such as sales at restaurants and hotels, as well as $6.7 million in taxes. … The Sacramento study’s author, Sacramento consulting firm Capitol Public Finance Group, contends that the downtown location would create considerable economic activity beyond the walls of the building itself. The arena would draw 3.1 million new visitors a year downtown, the report said.

    The actual report is here. http://www.thinkbigsacramento.com/assets/Uploads/The_Economic_Engine_Report-Final.pdf (Note that the task force has been renamed from Here We Build to Think Big Sacramento, apparently because they couldn’t get the rights to the old domain name.) Actually reading it reveals a few details not covered in the Sacramento Bee article:

    It’s not 3.1 million new visitors that the arena would be expected to draw each year, but rather 3.1 million visitors total. The report doesn’t bother to say how many visitors the current arena gets.

    Likewise, the $7 billion a year in “economic benefits” is actually economic activity: in other words, the gross total of all spending in the greater Sacramento region by anyone going to a new arena, whether inside the gates, at local restaurants, etc. Net spending — in other words, money that would be new to the region — is actually estimated to be just 15% of that, a little under $25 million a year.

    That’s economic activity, not revenue to Sacramento. Actual new sales and hotel tax revenue to the city is estimated at $1.7 million a year.

    So, the plan here is to spend around $400 million (the task force hasn’t decided yet how the money would be raised), which comes to around $25 million a year in bond payments, to build an arena that would only generate about that same amount of money per year in new economic activity — and which in tax revenue would bring in less than one-tenth of what taxpayers were spending. That’s eye-popping, all right, but probably not in the way that the Bee meant it.

  • All the members of the city council know that a vote for a new Kings’ arena will be a career ending decision.

    Despite public relations huckster Chris Lehane’s “Merry Prankster” caravan, ridiculous street theater, contrived public participation, incompetent economic reports and secret meetings with regional politicians, the poll results have never shown the kind of support needed to make this project feasible. If the polling were to show 40% support – perhaps even 35% – Lehane would be laying on a full blown campaign for a vote, knowing that with enough money he could turn 10-15% of the voters.

    Chris Lehane’s choice of strategy verifies that he is failing. He is reduced to slight of hand, misdirection and the display of bright shiny objects in front of hand selected audiences, because he can’t show a solid, audited economic analysis or a private financing plan. He has to keep meeting locations and times secret: His plans and data will not stand up to public scrutiny. There are no large pockets of support to consolidate, so he must hop all over a three county area to find friendly audiences.

    Lehane clearly doesn’t see how ludicrous this campaign looks to the outside observer. Nor does he see how impotently it portrays the now muzzled mayor Kevin Johnson. And Graswich lets this happen.

    When this finally gets to a city council vote, there will be the mayor, the NBA, the Maloofs, Goldman-Sachs, some pretty pictures and a small band of purple people on one side of the room. On the other side of the room will be unemployed police and CSIs, unemployed firemen, unemployed city workers, urban planners, transportation specialists, financial analysts, lawyers, anti tax citizens, fix-my-pothole citizens, angry citizens and hungry citizens.

    The new Kings’ arena will be DOA.

  • Isaac Gonzalez

    I’ve read the “31 page” report and after you remove all the graphics, charts, history, and blank pages it easily could be narrowed down to six pages, and even those are lacking in substance. The whole report seems to have been on the shelf for some time, it even calls the current arena “arco” throughout the entire piece. Maybe that is because it wasnt designed to be read or dissected, rather reported on blindly by the media outlets as part of the PR machine that has been in full gear since the Maloofs played chicken with the people of Sacramento.
    Great plans should stand up to great criticism. Great ideas should welcome public transparency. Rather this plan seems to be rammed down our throats, and those whose voice is the least bit skeptical
    Are shouted down as neigh sayers. What’s wrong with doing it right and in the open for all to see, especially if it’s goin to be done with public money, which you know is the endgame of this PR move. http://ransackedmedia.com/2011/06/04/arena-finance-plan-exists-developer-fears-criticism/

    • Isaac Gonzalez

      ..and you deleted his comment.

  • Part of the quality of life of a city is the quality of its civic amenities. Not the only part, but a big part. Our current event center is substandard. Sacramento is not. We deserve amenities of the calibre of our people.

  • Tashina Brito

    The comment was taken down due to its profanity. Sacramento Press does not allow harmful attacks nor vulgar language on our site. However, as Sacramento Press always encourages a variety of perspectives to be represented, we have strongly encouraged the user to re-post his comment, minus the the profanity. Hopefully that user will re-post!

  • Mark

    I agree that our civic amenities have not caught up with the population. I just question whether spending the money for a downtown arena will really improve the quality of life or is what we need right now. I’m not one of those Sacramento do-nothing nitpikers. I think we need to spend money to make money. I think we need to improve the social life of our city. But is this the way to do it? Since I think the Kings will leave town next year I say- no. But even if the Kings did stay I think using an arena to ‘save’ downtown is unreasonable and actually old fashion thinking. An enclosed arena will not have the same positive impact as a ballpark. Additionally, in a car-dependent region like Sacramento, the parking and traffic will only cause problems for the nearby neighborhoods and future Railyards. For the amount of money that we would spend on an arena we could invest in new urban housing, parks, bridges, and the like.

  • Ben Ilfeld

    I’m still waiting for the financing plan.

    Until then, everything is speculative.

    How could I complain its a bad way to spend money when we don’t even know WHO is spending WHAT money?

    The real mess here and the reason that momentum has been lost is that there was a promise of a financing plan initially that never materialized. Every day that does by without a financing plan is a day lost – and we only had 365 of them to get everything together.

    I am all in favor of having a modern sports and entertainment complex. I am all in favor of a location downtown. I am all in favor of retaining a sports team or attracting a new one. However, how can I expect that to happen if there is literally no plan to finance it? How can you assure voters you won’t cut deeper into our budgets when there has been no viable alternative presented?

    • The Natomas proposal submitted to the city council in December last year met all of the requirements established by the mayor’s group. It was the only proposal which did. After promising the public and councilperson Ashby that Natomas would be considered, the mayor’s cronies made a last minute decision to bar the Natomas proposal in order to once agan throw money in David Taylor’s direction.

      The real mess here is that the mayor has an undisclosed political agenda which is taking precedence over the requirement to conduct the public’s business in public. He has handed off the city’s business to a private group so that they can meet in secret and avoid scrutiny by the public. He has handed control of the group to a public relations consultant with no knowledge or experience in sports arenas. The economic “report” is an unaudited document written by an author with no background in the economic analysis of arenas.

      If the mayor had followed a policy of honesty and openess the city could be building now if it chose to do so. Instead we have smoke and mirrors.

    • Mark

      Yep. Show me the money.

  • I see that in picture 2 the “citizen architect” has donned one of those magic, $40 rubber band thingys that they sell at the Unbalanced arena.

    So they are going to send people who are that naive into the community to represent this project? Yeah, good luck with that. To me it’s a big red flag which says “I’m really gullible.”

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