City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

October 4, 2011
Sacramento officials, NBA, arena developers to meet in Dallas

Officials with the city of Sacramento, the NBA, arena development group ICON/Taylor and arena operator AEG will hold their first key meeting in Dallas on Wednesday to discuss the construction of a new sports arena in the downtown railyard.

According to a memo written by City Manager John Shirey, the sides will have a "preliminary technical discussion."

"Following this discussion, we will lay out the process and timeline that formal discussions and negotiations will take place," Shirey wrote. "Our collective goal is to reach a definitive financing plan by the end of the year."

Leading the NBA's negotiating team is Clay Bennett, the owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Bennett also led an NBA contingent to Sacramento earlier this year that ultimately helped persuade the league to keep the Sacramento Kings in town for another year while an arena project was developed.

The sides will meet in Dallas because it is a "middle location that works for all parties, including Clay Bennett, who heads the NBA effort," said Joaquin McPeek, a mayoral spokesman.

AEG's role in the talks is also noteworthy. The firm invested $53 million into the construction of Kansas City's Sprint Center. It now operates the facility, keeping the profits; if profits exceed a certain threshold, the revenue is shared with the city.

Sacramento officials have been in talks with AEG for weeks about the firm's interest in a project here.

"All parties recognize that at the end of the day, any agreement will have to have economics that work for all parties - the Kings, developer, operator and, most importantly, the public," said Mayor Kevin Johnson. "To this point, the fundamental approach being taken by Sacramento's team will be to put taxpayers first when it comes to reaching an agreement that will represent a real return on the public investment, defined as jobs and economic development."

Shirey has also put together the team of outside advisers that will help the city evaluate a menu of financing options for the $387 million project.

One of the most significant funding options being discussed in the leasing of city-owned parking garages and spaces.

Acting as the chief consultant on that issue will be Walker Parking, a firm with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and several other U.S. cities. According to Walker's website, it is the "largest parking consulting and design firm" in the country.

The city's negotiating team will be made up of Mayor Kevin Johnson and Council members Rob Fong and Steve Cohn, Shirey, Assistant City Manager John Dangberg, City Attorney Eileen Teichert, arena finance consultant Dan Barrett and attorney Paul Jacobs.

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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


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