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City’s arena deal puts Sacramento back in the game

The 7-2 Sacramento City Council vote Tuesday night created a non-binding agreement to build a $448 million arena in the city's Downtown Plaza. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento now has a bid to keep the Kings that it believes is strong enough to compete with the Seattle offer when both are pitched the NBA next week.

“Let’s do it Sacramento,” Mayor Kevin Johnson shouted right after the 7-2 city council vote Tuesday night that created a non-binding agreement to build a $448 million arena in the city’s Downtown Plaza.

More than half of the money will come from a city subsidy coming from downtown parking revenues. But the new arena plan is also packaged with four billionaires backing a plan to buy the team, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson believes it’s enough to keep the team.

“This is our time,” he said. “We are going to do what we need to do today, with certainty and a resounding vote, and then we’re going to go back to New York and let them know we have an ownership group, we’re going to build a new arena downtown and we’re going to talk about the viability and strength of this market and we’re going to talk about the love affair we have with this team.”

This arena deal also includes a reinvestment and redevelopment of more than a million square feet of property in Sacramento’s downtown.

Mayor Johnson said this is about more than just the Kings and an arena. “I don’t want to get lost now in the moment of how powerful this moment is for our community,” the mayor said. He also believes this vote sends a message to Seattle.

“We want the folks in Seattle to get a team at some point,” he said. “We wish them well, but we want to keep what’s ours and that’s not too much to ask.”

Not everyone in Sacramento is behind this deal. There was more than four hours of testimony from council members and the public, including many people who don’t like the deal, but they were in the minority and eventually lost in the chants of “Sac-Ra-Men-To.”

Now it’s all up to the NBA. We’ll know in mid-April whether the Kings are staying in Sacramento or moving to Seattle.

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