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Locals balk at paying for new arena

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April 26, 2011 | 6 Comments

Sacramento Kings fan Ralph Miller IV, 9, holds a sign conveying his sentiments during the Sacramento Kings basketball game April 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers in Sacramento. AP photo

Sacramento Kings fan Ralph Miller IV, 9, holds a sign conveying his sentiments during the Sacramento Kings basketball game April 13 against the Los Angeles Lakers in Sacramento. AP photo

Everyone loves the Sacramento Kings and wants to keep the cash cow from skipping to Southern California, but Yolo officials have balked at paying for a downtown Sacramento arena with local tax dollars.

A proposal emerged earlier this week to band six counties in the Sacramento region together, including Yolo, and pool government monies. The proposed coalition, known as a “joint powers authority,” would include Yolo, Sacramento, Sutter, Yuba, Placer and El Dorado counties.

Two Yolo supervisors, Board Chair Matt Rexroad of Woodland and Don Saylor of Davis, aren’t jumping at the idea as the county faces another multimillion-dollar deficit.

“Our budgets are being slashed. We’ve laid of 20 percent of our workforce,” Rexroad said. “If I were to rank our priorities, building an arena in another jurisdiction would not be in the top 10, top 20, top 40 — whatever you want it to be.”

Rexroad said he’s willing to look at a proposal, but he hasn’t seen one yet.

No government official has presented him with any details about the proposal to build a government body joining the six counties, what its mission would be or where the money would come from.

“It’s kind of amateur hour,” Rexroad said. ”We’re somehow not going to use taxpayer money — no general fund — and somehow we’re going to come up with $300 million over the next decade? Those things are intellectually inconsistent for me.”

Like Rexroad, Saylor said the idea of a joint powers authority hasn’t surfaced in the talks he’s had about a new arena. But whether it’s PowerBalance Pavilion (the new name for the former Arco Arena) or a brand-new facility, a sports and entertainment complex is “a vital economic engine” to the region, Saylor said.

A new arena would create 1,300 construction jobs and 230 indefinitely to run the facility. More than $185 million would be pumped into the regional economy during construction, with another $15.3 million during ongoing operations, officials estimate.

“Having a regional sports and entertainment facility is a significant regional asset that most major metropolitan cities, if not all, covet,” said Matt Mahood, president/CEO of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “If they don’t have one, they’re trying to figure out how to build one. If they have an aging facility, they’re trying to figure out how to build a new one.”

And it’s not just about the Kings and NBA basketball. Arco Arena has hosted more than 200 events a year, including superstar concerts like the Lady Gaga show last month, Disney on Ice and the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament.

“Without a world-class sports and entertainment facility, those types of activities won’t happen,” Mahood said. “You can’t host them at the convention center; you can’t host them at Memorial Auditorium or facilities at UC Davis.”

Mahood, too, didn’t know much about a formal powwow between local governments, but building a multimillion-dollar sports arena in downtown Sacramento is going to take a regional effort.

“It’s not just going to be the city of Sacramento or the county of Sacramento,” he continued. “Folks of Yolo, Placer and El Dorado — and maybe Yuba and Sutter — it’s a regional asset and all those residents are going to attend those games. They should be a part of the funding effort to build a new facility.”

They are, Rexroad said. They buy tickets to Kings games, concerts and Disney on Ice, not as taxpayers but as fans.

“I’m not sure why folks in Yolo County, Davis or Woodland ought to be taxed for something they may or may not do,” Rexroad said, “when the people attending the events could pay for it themselves.

“I’d like the Kings to stay,” he added. “I think most people in Woodland want them to stay. They’d love them to stay, but they’re not willing to be taxed to keep them here. Sacramento can do that on their own if they’d like.”

— Reach Jonathan Edwards at jedwards@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8052.

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Discussion | 6 comments

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  • Forget the KingsApril 27, 2011 - 7:50 am

    Finally a politician who Just Says No the the Drama Queens and Maloots.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Davis DadApril 27, 2011 - 11:15 am

    Before Yolo County and/or Davis automatically refuses to be part of any Joint Powers Authority, it might be useful to consider the funding source. Public money does not mean taking money from the county or city, or increasing taxes on the people in the county or city. For example, a 1 percent tax on hotel rooms rented in the county or city going to the JPA to fund the arena. Such rooms are primarily rented by out-of-towners. Additionally, a one percent tax on rental cars, again, primarily impacting people from out of town. These are just two quick examples. Many other cities and counties do this sort of tax to fund an arena or entertainment complex. It may be worth talking about before just rejecting the idea immediately.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich RifkinApril 27, 2011 - 1:35 pm

    "And it’s not just about the Kings and NBA basketball. Arco Arena has hosted more than 200 events a year, including superstar concerts like the Lady Gaga show last month, Disney on Ice and the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament." If the new 20,000-seat arena costs $300 million, much of that price tag could be covered by a $10 ticket surcharge for all events. One sell-out would generate $200,000. It would take 1,500 sell-outs to raise $300 million. If that takes 5-8 years, there will be interest expenses and likely other expenses. I would not oppose a JPA (meaning taxpayers) covering that marginal cost or even some related infrastructure improvements, such as better roads in and out. Putting some public money into this facility is justifiable. There is a non-monetary, communal benefit for the Sacramento region rallying around "our team." However, the monetary benefits you cite above are purely voodoo economics: "A new arena would create 1,300 construction jobs and 230 indefinitely to run the facility. More than $185 million would be pumped into the regional economy during construction, with another $15.3 million during ongoing operations, officials estimate." Keep in mind that you have to take that money out of other people's pockets in order to pour it into a stadium. That is money that won't be spent on visits to the zoo or for dining out or for going to rock shows at other venues. Every academic study of stadium finance has shown building luxurious new arenas does not improve a region's economy. http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv23n2/coates.pdf "in stark contrast to the results claimed by most prospective economic impact studies commissioned by teams or stadium advocates, the consensus in the academic literature has been that the overall sports environment has no measurable effect on the level of real income in metropolitan areas."

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Greg KuperbergApril 27, 2011 - 2:20 pm

    After all of the hay that people have made about public salaries lately, it is just plain offensive for anyone to ask for any public funds to be spent on a professional sports team. The top-paid player on the Sacramento Kings makes more money than the entire Davis fire department. He makes more money than all 10 UC chancellors and UC president Yudof combined. And all of that just for dribbling a ball. So to have a discussion about subsidizing the Sacramento Kings --- it's just galling. Public employees may be more expensive than we might wish, but they are paid a lot less than sports figures and at least they have real responsibilities. In theory, some of the money could come back from out-of-town taxation. In practice, if they really thought that the stadium could pay for itself, they wouldn't ask for help. There are other jurisdictions around the country that are still paying for stadiums even though the star teams have left.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • fed upApril 27, 2011 - 2:58 pm

    "In theory, some of the money could come back from out-of-town taxation." Yeah, and if any new monies are raised why would we waste it on a new arena when our schools are going to Hell?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Socialize CostsApril 27, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    Privatize Profits. That's the future of America! You aren't supposed to complain, you're supposed to go the games and buy beer.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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