That Sacramento city councilmember who Kings arena opponents subpoenaed to testify about the Kings arena deal testified that he thought it would cost more than the city has publicly revealed, which is no surprise, given that not only he but a lot of other people have been saying this for almost a year now. The surprising part, sort of, is that he said that some of the people trying to buy the Kings admitted it too:
McCarty, who has consistently opposed the subsidy, said he was contacted by representatives of the Kings investment group asking if the city would be willing to pay a subsidy beyond the $258 million figure. The men, he said, were lobbying the city on behalf of the investors trying to buy the Kings last year to prevent them from moving to Seattle.
McCarty identified one caller as Sacramento developer David Taylor. He also said he was contacted by lobbyist and businessman Darius Anderson and Frank Quintero, a representative of Southern California billionaire Ron Burkle. Burkle, Anderson and Taylor wound up not buying the team. Instead, a group led by Bay Area tech executive Vivek Ranadive purchased the Kings last May and is pressing ahead with plans to build a new arena at Downtown Plaza – with what the city has pegged as a $258 million subsidy.
Taylor and Anderson declined to comment Thursday. Quintero couldn’t be reached for comment.
“So-called whales lobbied me and other councilmembers asking the city if they would contribute more than last year’s $258 million subsidy and using the number $125 million more because they were overpaying,” McCarty said…
McCarty added that City Manager John Shirey told him the “whale team stormed out” of a negotiating session over the investors’ insistence that the city throw in an additional $125 million. The deposition does not specify which investors were in the meeting with city officials.
So that’s not exactly a smoking gun that there are hidden subsidies in the Kings deal, but given that we already know there are hidden subsidies, it’s evidence that the would-be Kings owners (who ended up not owning the Kings) knew it, too. Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork attorney Patrick Soluri declared yesterday that this “constitutes a gift of illegal funds for private benefit, and we believe that part of the term sheet is unlawful and we believe that a court would strike that arrangement”; that sounds like a reach to me (if every stadium deal that included hidden subsidies were thrown out, the Yankees would still be playing at Hilltop Park), but I guess it’s possible there’s some wrinkle of California law that requires “honesty.” Those hippies would be just like that.