Mayor Kevin Johnson sounded even less hopeful today that the Kings will spurn Anaheim and stay in Sacramento after all.
He told the Natomas Chamber of Commerce that the Kings have one foot "and three toes, maybe four" on the other foot out the door, despite his entreaties to the Kings owners, the Maloofs. Johnson said everyone should know for sure by the NBA owners meeting in mid-April, if not before.
The mayor's advocacy for a new downtown sports and entertainment arena - with or without the Kings - does not go over well in Natomas, where residents and businesses fear what will happen to Power Balance Pavilion (formerly Arco Arena) if a new arena is built elsewhere. Chamber President Ed Koop teased the mayor in his introduction, holding up the plan to build a new arena in Natomas and saying it was still available to the city.
At the 7th annual "State of Natomas" luncheon today, Johnson renewed his commitment that any redevelopment of the Natomas arena site will mean the same economic impact or more.
More broadly, he acknowledged that City Hall has not "met the mark" in fulfilling the "grand vision" for Natomas as a mixed-use paradise. That's partly due to the budget crunch and economic downturn, and partly due to the building moratorium imposed until the levees are shored up, he said. But elected officials "have not lived up that vision," Johnson said.
Even with the building moratorium, Census figures out last week showed that Natomas is where the vast majority of Sacramento's population growth occurred over the past decade. It may be time, the mayor said, to "reset" with a new vision for Natomas going forward.