City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

December 14, 2011
Some Sacramento council members seeking regional dollars for arena project

There is a renewed push among some Sacramento City Council members to get other local governments involved financially in the building of a new downtown sports arena. But is it too late?

Councilman Rob Fong has been particularly vocal in saying the city of Sacramento shouldn't go at the arena deal alone, a stance he repeated Tuesday night during a pivotal council vote to gauge interest from the private sector in the city's parking operations.

"I think we need to make a real effort to see what the other cities - and frankly the counties - in the region who would kind of be our partners in this venture could contribute in a real way so that they're having these sorts of discussions in their chambers as well," said Fong, who voted to approve moving forward with a request for qualifications from parking companies.

Upfront cash from a private company that wants to take over city parking spaces, garages and enforcement could bring the city up to $200 million, officials said. That's nearly half the price tag of the arena.

That parking money is seen as essential to getting the project done, especially given how some council members have reacted to other ideas.

One possible financing idea that appears to have no traction is redirecting hotel taxes slated to pay for a $48 million renovation of the Community Center Theater.

Within the next few months, bonds that paid for a previous renovation at the theater will be paid off, freeing up $2.7 million a year collected from taxes placed on hotel rooms in the city. The expectation has long been that the $2.7 million would go toward the next renovation project.

Several council members said Tuesday that remains to be the case, essentially wiping that funding option off the table for a new arena.

I'll have more on the council's desire to get other governments involved in the project - and how those governments are reacting - in tomorrow's Bee.

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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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