ORLANDO - As the city enters the most important weekend in its years-long arena effort, State Senators Darrell Steinberg and Ted Gaines have a message for the NBA: the city has done its part and it's time for you to step up.
In phone interviews this morning, both Gaines (R-Roseville) and Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said city officials had crafted a solid financing plan for the $387 million downtown arena.
"Our message is that Sacramento has always done right by the Kings and the NBA and it's time for the NBA to do the right thing and make a long-term commitment to Sacramento," Steinberg told me. "Fundamentally, the NBA asked the community a year ago to put forward a serious proposal to build a downtown sports and entertainment complex and the community has done just that. This needs to end with success."
Gaines told me that he feels "the city of Sacramento has done their part in terms of laying the table for what should be a successful agreement" on the arena. Gaines and Steinberg are the co-chairs of the Think Big committee, which has explored the financing options for the arena.
"(The plan) has been done without increasing taxes for hard-working families and now it's time for the NBA and the Maloofs (who own the Kings) to step up," he said.
City officials are proposing to lease downtown parking to a private firm in order to raise as much as $200 million for the arena, which would be owned by the city. Sacramento is also expected to sell land to fund the deal and has asked Sacramento County officials for permission to use revenue from county-owned parking garages generated at arena events.
The Kings and an arena operator are being asked to contribute the balance of the $387 million price tag. NBA Commissioner David Stern has said the Kings' contribution would be substantial.
"I think this is a great deal put together with a lot of wisdom," Gaines said. "I think it's a great opportunity for us to launch forward, retain the Sacramento Kings and provide a venue for a variety of entertainment we don't currently have the luxury of having."
Steinberg said there was "no question" this is the best arena deal the city has ever crafted.
Meanwhile, Mayor Kevin Johnson, City Manager John Shirey and Assistant City Manager John Dangberg are scheduled to arrive in Orlando around 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
They are expected to be joined by Dan Barrett, the sports consultant assisting the city in its negotiations with the NBA and Sacramento Kings, and members of the mayor's Think Big arena committee. Negotiations with the NBA are scheduled for Sunday.