The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

March 8, 2012
Count Gov. Brown a skeptic on Sacramento arena deal
20120308_PK_BROWN_0107.JPGGov. Jerry Brown came in this afternoon to talk to The Bee's editorial board about his November tax measure and the state budget. But ask him about anything and the man will have an opinion.

Like the big topic this week in Sacramento -- the proposed new arena downtown.

While he was careful to say he hasn't spent a lot of time studying the issue, he also indicated he's squarely in the skeptics camp.

The public needs to focus, he said, on how the arena is being financed. 

"I would look into the details of how it all gets paid for," Brown said, adding that he isn't sure how the city will get its up-front contribution from leveraging its downtown parking.

But the governor also recognized which way things are headed after the City Council's vote Tuesday night to approve a term sheet on the arena.

"It's worthy of civic debate, but I can tell you once that boosterism gets going, it's like a freight train," he said.

Though he acknowledged that the areas around AT&T Park in San Francisco and Petco Park in San Diego are hopping, he recommended reading Roger Noll, a Stanford economist who is among those who question the benefits of arenas and stadiums to a city's economic development.

Part of Brown's skepticism is born of his experience as Oakland mayor, when the NFL Raiders extracted public money for improvements to the coliseum, which he said was not a good deal for the city. And now, he noted, the Raiders and A's want new facilities because they say the stadium is obsolete.

Pro teams continually push for nicer arenas and stadiums with more luxury boxes so they can afford escalating player salaries, he said.

"This," the governor said, "is a very strange business."

Bee photo by Paul Kitagaki, March 8, 2012.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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