City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 1, 2011
Campaign seeks to delay Anaheim bonds that would lure Kings

In the quest to keep the Kings, a group of Sacramentans are about to do what this town does best: pick a political fight.

Funded by a small group of local business owners and a former Sacramento councilman, campaign workers will be on the streets of Anaheim soon collecting signatures for a ballot referendum aimed at holding up that city's decision to sell bonds to lure the Kings to town.

The Anaheim City Council voted Tuesday to issue a $75 million bond package that will be repaid by billionaire Henry Samueli, who operates the city-owned Honda Center.

Under the deal, most of the money - $50 million - will be loaned to Kings ownership to help the team relocate to Southern California. The rest would pay for upgrades to the Honda Center, the team's presumed future home.

Anaheim city officials have not returned my phone call seeking comment.

Supporters of the referendum campaign told me their goal is to delay the issuance of the bonds long enough that it gives Sacramento leaders time to come up with a viable arena plan - and perhaps hold up a Kings move down south.

The campaign - dubbed the Committee to Save the Kings - is being backed financially by, among others, steel company executive Steve Ayers, commercial real estate developer Ethan Conrad and former Sacramento Councilman Robbie Waters.

"The Committee believes the taxpayers of Anaheim have good reason to object to their city issuing bonds, placing Anaheim at risk, solely to facilitate a private loan between the billionaire operator of the Honda Center and the Kings' owners - who may be in financial distress," said attorney Jeff Dorso, who is also helping to guide the effort.

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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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