ORLANDO - Mayor Kevin Johnson and other city officials are on their way here for the most important weekend in the city's years-long fight to build a new arena.
Johnson, City Manager John Shirey and Assistant City Manager John Dangberg are scheduled to arrive around 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. They are expected to be joined in Orlando 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.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) told me this morning 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 is the co-chair 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 in a phone interview.
City officials are proposing to lease downtown parking to a private firm in order to raise as much as $200 million for the project. The city 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."