Okay, that’s not how it was supposed to go. Joe and Gavin Maloof, the owners of the Sacramento Kings, abruptly pulled out of negotiations to buy a swath of downtown rail yards land for a new arena, with Joe telling the Sacramento Bee: “There are no more negotiations; we’ve already discussed all the issues. They know what we need. We’ve told them.”
This leaves Sacramento County voting on a November ballot proposal to raise sales taxes to build an arena, without anybody to build an arena for. The Maloofs are also reportedly withholding $1.5 million in cash they’d promised to give to the pro-arena campaign until their land demands are met.
The holdup is apparently over whether the city would get to build a retail/entertainment district on the land surrounding the arena, or whether the Maloofs would get it all for parking – though there have been murmurs of concern over the cost of toxic cleanup of the site as well. Interestingly, one Maloof objection may have been over whether competing restaurants would be allowed to operate next door to the arena – and interesting twist on how teams seek new buildings in order to reap the revenues from increased concessions and restaurant space, even while claiming that they will “revitalize” the surrounding neighborhoods.
If the Kings really do pull out, it’s hard to imagine anyone backing the arena sales-tax plan, which already faces substantial opposition and promised lawsuits. Okay, hard to imagine except for one guy: Sacramento assistant city manager told the Bee that “I believe this is worth moving forward with in any case. We have a need for an entertainment facility in this region of this size and quality. If the Kings are not a part of it, it is presumed that they are not part of our community.” Does this guy really need a reminder of the dangers of building arenas on spec?