City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 20, 2011
Johnson, region's leaders confer on keeping the Kings

By Ryan Lillis
rlillis@sacbee.com

Two dozen elected officials and business group leaders met with Mayor Kevin Johnson, at his request, today to get an update on the effort to keep the Kings in town. While no specific role was laid out, the regional leaders agreed the city of Sacramento should not be alone in the fight.

The meeting comes the day before officials from the National Basketball Association are expected to arrive in Sacramento today as part of a league fact-finding effort to determine whether the Kings should be allowed to move to Anaheim.

Rancho Cordova Councilwoman Linda Budge said her city "doesn't want the economic or emotional hit" of losing the Kings.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon of West Sacramento described the Kings as "one of the region's most important assets" and Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor noted 4,700 jobs from across the area would be created through the construction of a new arena.

Asked if the regional collaboration meant there was also a regional appetite to help fund the construction of a new arena, Johnson said the group wasn't ready to discuss that yet.

"If we get past the next hurdle (of keeping the Kings or the NBA in Sacramento), which I'm very confident that we're on track to do, then we'll start talking about other ways to move the ball forward," he said.

Meanwhile, a signature drive is nearly complete in Anaheim that would place a referendum on the ballot to delay that city's decision to issue bonds aimed at luring the Kings. Sacramento-based political strategist Rob Stutzman said Wednesday the campaign probably has enough valid signatures collected already to force a vote on the bonds, but will likely continue collecting through the end of the week. Stutzman said the campaign needs roughly 8,000 signatures but will end up with more than 10,000.

Once the signatures are collected, they will be turned in to the Anaheim city clerk for validation, perhaps as early as Monday. If they are determined valid, Stutzman said a vote will be forced to allow the $75 million bond package to be issued.

Campaign organizers are trying to delay those bonds long enough to hold up a Kings move to Anaheim. The bonds would help pay for the team's relocation costs and upgrades to Anaheim's Honda Center, where the Kings would play.

Region's leaders


From left to right, Rancho Cordova Councilwoman Linda Budge said she "doesn't want the economic or emotional hit" of losing the Kings. Mayor Christopher Cabaldon of West Sacramento described the Kings as "one of the region's most important assets." Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor noted 4,700 jobs from across the area would be created through the construction of a new arena. Mayor Kevin Johnson, who's been instrumental in the city's efforts to keep the Kings, said "If we get past the next hurdle (of keeping the Kings or the NBA in Sacramento), which I'm very confident that we're on track to do, then we'll start talking about other ways to move the ball forward."

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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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