City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

March 22, 2013
Conceptual drawings of new Kings arena released by city

arena concept.pngThe city still hasn't nailed down a plan to finance the project, but today it released what it is calling a conceptual drawing showing a new Kings arena at the Downtown Plaza site.

The drawing, by architectural firm AECOM, show the arena facing L Street between 5th and 6th streets.

It also shows a line of new towers along J Street along the northern border of what is now the mall and a tree-lined pedestrian walkway area on K Street on the western edge of the plaza.

As of 3 p.m. today, city officials had not come to an agreement with billionaire Ron Burkle over the financing of the arena. City Manager John Shirey is still aiming to have the financing term sheet completed in time for the City Council to vote on the plan Tuesday night.

March 22, 2013
Sacramento arena talks continue, but no deal yet

City officials remain in negotiations with the investors trying to build a new arena at the site of the Downtown Plaza, but have still not reached an agreement on the project's financing terms.

Amy Williams, a city spokeswoman, said at noon today that the talks were ongoing but that no deal had been reached. City Manager John Shirey had initially said he wanted an arena "term sheet" to be finished by Thursday in time to post it on the agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Shirey still wants the arena plan to be voted on by the council on Tuesday.

March 21, 2013
City Manager still confident arena financing plan will come together

Despite missing his self-imposed deadline to reach a deal for an arena financing plan, City Manager John Shirey said today he remains optimistic an agreement will be reached.

Shirey said top city negotiators and representatives of billionaire Ron Burkle were still talking this afternoon about the financing of an arena at Downtown Plaza and that those talks were expected to continue. He said the sides have not reached an impasse.

Shirey would not say what sticking points remain between the sides.

March 21, 2013
Third big investor emerges in bid for Sacramento Kings

By Tony Bizjak, Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis

In an apparent effort to add more financial heft to their bid for the Sacramento Kings, Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle have recruited Vivek Ranadive, chairman and chief executive of a $1 billion-a-year Silicon Valley software company, to be the new leader in their bid to buy the team.

Ranadive is also a limited partner and vice chairman of the Golden State Warriors - the team Mastrov tried to buy in 2010.

A source close to the arena effort, but who is not authorized to speak on the record, said Ranadive has been talking with Mastrov for several months about joining Mastrov's bid to buy the Kings.

March 20, 2013
City still in arena talks, expects deal to be released Thursday

City officials said late today that they expect the details of an arena financing plan to be made public Thursday.

"There is nothing new to report," City Manager John Shirey said in an emailed statement. "We have been in discussions all day with the Investors, and those discussions will continue. We anticipate that the Term Sheet will be made public (Thursday) afternoon."

Shirey wants the arena financing plan to be included in the agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting, giving the council and the public five days to examine the plan before a council vote on the proposal. The city has scheduled a 5:30 p.m. public forum Thursday at City Hall to discuss the plan.

March 20, 2013
Fundraising drive sending nearly 500 kids, volunteers to Kings game

For the second time, a Kings fan group raised enough in donations to send hundreds of kids and volunteers from local schools and community centers to a game.

Here We Stay says it raised $8,400 to buy 480 tickets for Sunday's game against Philadelphia, which has been dubbed "Here We Buy Night 2." The tickets will be distributed by the COS Foundation, 3fold Communications and the Northeastern California and Northern Nevada Make-A-Wish foundation.

The group ran a similar campaign last month. Between the two fundraising drives, Here We Stay raised $17,802 - enough to purchase 1,106 tickets.

The fundraising drive is part of a fan movement to show the NBA that Sacramento is a supportive market for the league. According to a news release from Here We Stay, Sunday's game will include a tailgate party, organized fan chants and "a recording of a Harlem Shake video."

March 18, 2013
Carmichael Dave launches US tour to keep Kings in Sacramento

As the city enters the stretch run in its quest to keep the Kings, one of the team's biggest fans is hitting the road to promote the cause.

Radio personality Carmichael Dave (Dave Weiglein) will take off from Sacramento following Tuesday night's City Council meeting in a purple RV. He'll be joined by a film crew chronicling his journey and is planning to hit between 15 and 20 cities, scheduling appearances with local media as he talks up Sacramento's value as an NBA city.

The "Playing to Win Tour" will hit New York on April 3, the day contingents from Sacramento and Seattle are scheduled to make their pitches to the NBA for the Kings. A group from Seattle has an agreement in place to buy the team, but that deal requires the approval of the league.

March 15, 2013
Sacramento plans three public forums to discuss arena plan

Responding to calls from the public and City Council for a more open discussion about the details of an arena financing plan, the city has now scheduled three forums next week to discuss the proposal.

The city is still negotiating the plan for an arena at Downtown Plaza with billionaire Ron Burkle and does not expect to release the details until Thursday.

The first forum is scheduled to be held that evening, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 915 I St. Another forum is slated for a week from today from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Robertson Center, 3525 Norwood Ave. The third forum is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on March 23 at the Pannell Center, 2450 Meadowview Rd.

March 14, 2013
California Family Fitness to open K Street gym this summer

divebar.jpgPizza, mermaids and, now, pilates.

California Family Fitness formally announced this morning that it was building a gym on the 1000 block of K Street downtown, next to the Dive Bar/Pizza Rock/District 30 entertainment complex. The company said it plans to open the 32,000-square-foot fitness club by late summer.

Besides weights, group fitness classes, cardio machines and other gym staples, the club will also have a rooftop level with an outdoor basketball court and a lounge with fire pits. The company estimates the facility will draw 30,000 patrons to K Street each month.

March 12, 2013
Police officers, firefighters, pools funded by new Sacramento tax revenue

Dozens of new cops will be hired, nearly every pool in the city will be opened this summer and one fewer fire rig will be placed on rotating "brownout" under a spending plan approved tonight by the City Council.

The council voted 8-0 to approve how to spend the first $5 million in funds generated by Measure U, a half percentage point increase in the city sales tax approved by voters in November.

The $5 million covers the sales tax revenue through the end of the current fiscal year. The increase, which starts April 1, is expected to generate $27 million a year for the city.

March 12, 2013
Sacramento city manager: Talks on arena financing plan going well

Sacramento City Manager John Shirey told the City Council tonight that "talks are progressing well" between city negotiators and the investors seeking to build a new sports arena at the Downtown Plaza.

Top city officials are in intense talks with billionaire Ron Burkle over the financing of a new arena. That facility would house the Kings should the NBA reject a deal the team's owners have to sell the franchise to a group in Seattle.

Shirey said he remains on track to deliver a financing term sheet to the council in time for a vote March 26. He said he is hopeful that term sheet will be made available to the council and public March 21.

March 11, 2013
Seattle takes page from Sacramento playbook on PR campaign for Kings

Seattle is revving up its own public campaign to show its strength as an NBA market.

Chris Hansen, the hedge-fund manager who has a deal to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle, announced on his website today that he'll launch a "priority ticket waitlist" Thursday for fans who want seats in that city's new basketball arena. He wrote on the site that the pledge drive is "a critical step in demonstrating to the NBA and basketball fans around the country the unbelievable passion that exists in the Emerald City to BRING BACK OUR SONICS!"

Sacramento launched its own season ticket pledge drive in January in an attempt to show the NBA a robust level of support for basketball exists here. As of 5:30 p.m. today, 5,561 fans had pledged to buy season tickets for a new arena in downtown Sacramento - including 14 in the first half-hour after Hansen made his announcement.

March 11, 2013
City seeks feedback from public on Downtown Plaza arena plan

Think a new arena at the Downtown Plaza should have a giant cowbell statue out front? Have a favorite restaurant you'd like to see nearby? Think the whole idea is just plain lousy?

Tell the city.

City Hall is seeking input on the proposal to build a new sports arena at the lagging Downtown Plaza through its Envision Sacramento website. The survey can be found here.

March 11, 2013
Former Sacramento Monarchs to attend Thursday event promoting pro hoops in city

Mayor Kevin Johnson's pro basketball efforts aren't all about the Kings.

On Thursday, the mayor's Think Big task force will hold an event with two former Sacramento Monarchs stars promoting the region as a viable WNBA market.

A group led by 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov has filed a bid to buy the Kings and block the franchise's planned move to Seattle. But Johnson also announced during his State of the City address last month that the group is interested in bringing the WNBA's Monarchs back to Sacramento. The Monarchs folded in 2009.

March 7, 2013
Former Sacramento King Richmond greets fans as campaign to keep team rolls on

The public relations campaign to keep the Kings in town continued today with a blast from the franchise's past.

Former Kings star Mitch Richmond greeted a few dozen fans at midtown's Firestone Public House, signing posters and hats. Richmond has pledged $1 million to be part of a local ownership contingent seeking to block the Kings' move to Seattle.

"It would be a sad day if the Kings leave this community," Richmond said. "I know Seattle is a good place, I think Seattle's team (the Sonics) should have never left. But we want our team here."

March 5, 2013
Sacramento city manager wants council vote on arena deal March 26

Sacramento City Manager John Shirey said tonight that he intends to bring a financing term sheet for a new downtown sports arena to the City Council for a vote at the council's March 26 meeting.

Shirey had previously said he wanted that council vote to take place April 2, but said tonight that "was cutting it close" for the NBA's Board of Governors meeting just more than two weeks later. The league will decide during that April 18 and 19 session whether to approve the Kings' sale to a group in Seattle seeking to move the franchise to the Pacific Northwest.

The city manager said he expects negotiations to begin next week with billionaire Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov over the arena financing plan. He said he and other top city officials, along with a team of consultants, has spent the past two days preparing for those talks.

March 5, 2013
Could longer speaker times help end the craziness at council meetings?

There are times when City Council meetings resemble bad open mic nights. There's one guy who comes every week to accuse the council of "pimping the people." Another guy has a tradition of pointing out the best houses in Oak Park to find drugs and prostitutes. Someone once angrily threw a wallet at the mayor.

Now, a local watchdog group says it has a solution that will increase the quality of the discourse Tuesday nights at City Hall: give the audience a little more time in the spotlight.

Eye on Sacramento has asked the City Council to increase the amount of time speakers from the public are given to address the council. One of Mayor Kevin Johnson's first acts when he was elected in 2008 was to cut those time slots to two minutes from three. Eye on Sacramento thinks the three-minute allotment - which they said "was in place for several decades" before Johnson took over - is better.

March 1, 2013
City Hall wants feedback on McKinley Park playground designs

The city is just a few months away from starting to rebuild the beloved McKinley Park playground. But before the work starts, city officials want your input on some design concepts.

Residents can view design drafts for the playground at the Envision Sacramento website. The city is hoping to get feedback by Wednesday.

The playground was badly damaged by an arson fire last July. A massive fundraising drive led by Councilman Steve Cohn and east Sacramento neighborhood leaders has opened the door to the playground's reconstruction beginning in June.

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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