The Sacramento city council is set to vote today on a term sheet for a new Republic F.C. soccer stadium, which means that unlike all the past times Mayor “I Don’t Recall Being 100% Naked” talked about it, we have some actual numbers to evaluate. So let’s sit down with the term sheet, and begin.
First off, a term sheet is not a contract, or even a memorandum of understanding: It’s basically a sketch of how the financing and operations of a stadium will be worked out. So if the council approves it today, there will still be loads of details TBD.
That said, there’s a lot spelled out in the term sheet that rules out some of the more common hidden subsidies in these kinds of deals: The team owners would pay the entire $180 million construction cost, plus overruns, and would pay operating and maintenance costs. The team is even promising to pay property taxes, which as we’ve seen elsewhere isn’t always the case.
In exchange, Sacramento would turn over a chunk of land on the old railyards site that has received $46 million worth of infrastructure improvements to turn it into developable property. (This money has already been allocated, anyway; whether it’s all been spent is frustratingly vague in both the term sheet and the news articles about it, and Google Maps isn’t much help.) That’s not nothing — it’s land that could be used for something else otherwise — but since this is private land that’s gotten the public investment, the only taxpayer cost would be the money that the city has already committed to shelling out regardless of whether a stadium is built.
So, tentative thumbs-up for a plan that minimizes public costs! There are still many steps to go before this is set in stone, obviously, but if this goes ahead as written in the term sheet, it’d be a better deal for the public than pretty much any other MLS stadium deal outside of the one that the crazy rich guy is building in Orlando. Friends, they’ll call it a movement.