City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 17, 2012
Mayor: Sacramento should continue arena effort even without Kings

With the Sacramento Kings out of the city's arena equation, Mayor Kevin Johnson wants the city to spend the next two to three weeks exploring building a new downtown sports arena, "with or without an anchor tenant."

At a morning press briefing at City Hall, the mayor said that facility might be a scaled-down version of the $391 million facility initially proposed for the Sacramento Kings. He said it could be designed to accommodate expansions.

"This is bigger than basketball," he said. "I still believe that."

Johnson said the city would explore "the Kansas City model." City officials and arena operator AEG constructed the Sprint Center in Kansas City without a professional sports tenant.

The mayor said he still considers AEG a partner in its arena effort, even after the collapse of a deal that would have made the firm the operator of a downtown facility.

Johnson acknowledged that without the $73 million the Kings would have contributed to the arena, another facility might have to be smaller than the one originally proposed.

It is likely to be a challenge. David Taylor, the developer signed on to construct the downtown arena, said last year that the project would be a long shot without an anchor tenant, such as the Kings.

"We've overcome the odds before," the mayor said.

The mayor said legal and financial studies need to take place, most notably whether the Kings' outstanding loan with the city could be forgiven should a competing arena be built in the city.

If the Kings do leave town, Johnson said the city might explore trying to lure an NHL franchise.

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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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