Locals balk at paying for new arena

By April 26, 2011

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 [email protected] or (530) 747-8052.


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