Opinion: Let Sacramento vote on new Kings arena

Sarah Scott and Sarah Scott

The proposed new downtown Kings arena will cost an estimated $448 million, with the city of Sacramento being responsible for $258 million of that, according to The Sacramento Bee. The Kings franchise, in turn, will contribute $189 million.

As part of the agreement, the city will give up the 3,700 parking spaces, and the public funds for those spaces, beneath the downtown plaza, and the rights to the billboards in the vicinity of the new arena.

The decision to take that risk should be put to a vote on the June ballot.

Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) collected nearly 23,000 signatures to put the arena plans to a vote, yet the proposed ballot measure was disqualified, according to the Sacramento Bee, because City Clerk Shirley Concolino found the petitions to be “noncompliant with the California elections code and the Sacramento City Charter.”

STOP sued the city of Sacramento on Jan. 29 in an attempt to overturn the ruling.

STOP also released information Thursday from a deposition of Sacramento City Council member Kevin McCarty, who told STOP lawyers he believes the city is giving millions of dollars to Kings owners, stating there were “a number of elements in the term sheet that have value, in my view, that are worth, you know, tens of millions of dollars that were not properly accounted for in the overall package put forth to the public.”

Attorneys for STOP will use this information to argue in court that the arena term sheet is unlawful.

There are too many variables to accurately predict the economic outcome of the arena.

City Treasurer Russell Fehr estimates the total cost of the arena to be closer to $770 million, factoring in high interest rates over a 35-year period.

“It seems like a lot of guessing games to me,” said Jessica Daniels, an undecided major at American River College. “(The arena) could have a huge impact, and whether it’s positive or negative voters should get a say.”

Reece Jensen, a biology major and enthusiastic Kings fan has no doubt of the arena’s supposed success.

“I think if it went to a vote it would pass, cause we all want to see the Kings and the city do well. The arena will do that,” said Jensen.

Whether the arena succeeds and helps the city grow culturally and economically, or fails and becomes an empty, dark, leering debt over downtown, the decision should be made by the people who will reap the consequences, good or bad: the people of Sacramento.