City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 6, 2012
Seattle's interest in Kings not impacting Sacramento's arena work - so far

The news out of Seattle this weekend that city officials are discussing a plan for a new arena in that city - and that they're monitoring the situation here - is so far having no impact on Sacramento's own arena work.

"We are focused on one thing and one thing only: what is in the best interest of the people of Sacramento," Mayor Kevin Johnson told me in an email. "And to that end we have put in place a plan that we believe is good for the League (the NBA), good for the team (the Kings) and, most importantly, good for the City when it comes to jobs and protecting the taxpayers."

At the very least, news that Seattle has a new arena plan in the works tells us one thing: there's potentially a new suitor for the Kings, should Sacramento's own arena deal fail.

However, it seems the focus of the latest Seattle plan is for San Francisco businessman Christopher Hansen to buy a team and move it to the Northwest. The Maloofs - who own the Kings - have insisted they have no intention of selling the team.

So far, the mayor doesn't seem worried about Seattle. He added in his email to me that "we are on track to be able to move forward by March 1" with a financing plan for a new $387 million Kings arena in the downtown railyard.

Last week, the city released the names of 13 firms interested in leasing downtown parking operations. Officials hope to generate as much as $200 million in that deal as upfront cash for the arena.

The Kings, the NBA and a private arena operator are being counted on to fill in the rest.

As for Seattle, which lost the Sonics in 2008 to Oklahoma City, this isn't the first time the city has tried to replace KeyArena, the Sonics' home for more than 30 years. The arena is tucked into the posh Queen Anne neighborhood and, despite a series of renovations, was the smallest in the NBA when the Sonics left.

NBA Commissioner David Stern last year described Seattle as "a very prime city" to get a team back, but has criticized what Seattleites call "The Key." Three attempts to replace the arena - all relying on public funding - have failed in the past decade.

That public sentiment was driven home in 2006, when Seattle voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 91. That measure prohibits the city from helping finance sports arenas unless the investment can guarantee a profit equal to a 30-year U.S. Treasury bond.

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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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