City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

March 8, 2011
Mayor: Sacramento needs a new arena, with or without Kings

Mayor Kevin Johnson's campaign to build a new sports arena in town is becoming less and less about the Kings.

That point was made even clearer this morning at the mayor's weekly press conference, when he said it is "in Sacramento's best interest to build a new entertainment and sports complex."

"We're not building it for the Kings and we're not building it for the Maloofs (the family who has a primary ownership stake in the team)," the mayor said. "We're building it for our community. It's about quality of life."

Johnson criticized failed 2006 tax measures that would have funded a new arena for being too much about the Kings.

Johnson said the Q and R measures "really left a bad taste in people's mouths" and that at the time, there was "a lot of talk swirling around about are we building an arena for the Maloofs?"

"I think it was a mistake if we framed it like we were building something for the Kings, it should not have been just about them," the mayor said.

You might remember that the Maloofs were originally involved in the Q and R campaign, but were criticized for distancing themselves from it.

While stopping short of saying the city would be better off working toward a new arena without the Kings, Johnson said he thinks "the public feels a lot better in terms of having a dialogue about (a new arena)" now than they did in 2006.

The mayor made it clear that his first desire is to keep the Kings in town. But while keeping the team here had been his main concern, that priority changed after NBA Commissioner David Stern acknowledged last month that the Kings were negotiating with a group in Anaheim to move the team there.

As for the city's future should the Kings leave and a new arena get built, Johnson said he has made it clear to the NBA "we will be knocking on their door" for a new franchise.

"Our town deserves a basketball team," he said.

Beyond the cultural impact a new arena would have on the city, Johnson also said the push to get a new facility should continue because of economic issues. Hundreds of people are employed at Power Balance Pavilion and a new facility could act as a draw to the region, he said.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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