Sacramento council votes to approve (but really not approve) MLS stadium that won’t (but really will) cost taxpayer money

Good morning, and let’s all read an article that contradicts itself constantly!

The place: Sacramento, California. The outlet: KCRA, which used to be just a UHF television station but is now also a website because everything is also a website (even books!) and broadcasts on something called “virtual channel 3.” The author: “KCRA Staff,” which either means a whole lot of people worked on it or one person who really doesn’t want to be held responsible.

Here is the first paragraph of the article:

The Sacramento City Council approved a public-private partnership to build a Major League Soccer stadium in the downtown railyards and develop the surrounding area.

Whoa, that was fast! Just Friday we were looking at new stadium renderings, and now the council has already approved a funding plan! How did that happen so quickly?

Here is the second paragraph of the article:

Councilmembers unanimously voted Tuesday night to approve a term sheet, a non-binding document that lays out ways the city, the Sacramento Republic FC and Los Angeles-area developer Ron Burkle plan to work together to fund and build the stadium.

Okay, Mr. or Ms. KCRA Staff, that word “non-binding” you used? It means the entities signing it are not “bound” to it, by which is meant that either side can back out. So the partnership isn’t so much “approved” as “planned,” with the actual vote to approve it still to come.

Anyway, how will the city, Sacramento Republic FC, and Ron Burkle (who is actually majority owner of Republic FC, so it’s not entirely clear why he’s listed twice) work together to fund the stadium? On to paragraph three:

The $252 million stadium would be privately funded by the Republic FC and Burkle. No taxpayer dollars will be used to build the stadium.

Great news! Especially since as of Friday the project was set to receive $33 million in tax breaks and other subsidies. But now there’s nothing at all about that, according to paragraph three, and paragraph four, and what’s this now paragraph five:

The term sheet also includes $33 million in tax refunds, waived fees and administrative costs for the stadium.

Look. I understand the difficulties of doing comprehensive reporting in the modern world when media outlets are mostly staffed by overworked, underpaid interns and grad students and maybe sometimes augmented Roombas. But seriously, Mr. and/or Ms. KCRA Staff, is it so much trouble to read the very thing you just wrote to see if it still makes sense, given what you’re writing now? Even if you’re suffering short-term memory loss — perhaps the stress is getting to you, or your expanded RAM chip has come loose from its socket — the words are right there for you to look at as a reminder. It would definitely make for a better article if all the words worked together to convey a consistent series of facts, as opposed to looking like they were assembled from a series of separate articles about separate things happening in separate universes.

Anyway, MLS still hasn’t approved an expansion franchise for Sacramento, and won’t until later this year at the earliest, and the time when the league approves an infinite number of franchises at the latest (which could also be later this year). And the deal that is really a term sheet doesn’t kick in until Sacramento gets a team, at least — this isn’t Indianapolis, for god’s sakes.


7 comments on “Sacramento council votes to approve (but really not approve) MLS stadium that won’t (but really will) cost taxpayer money

  1. Just for information: KCRA has been one of the three VHF, network-affiliated television stations in Sacramento since the 1950’s along with KOVR (now CBS, originally ABC) and KXTV (now ABC, originally CBS). It is actually the best source of news in Sacramento and is usually the first one to report a breaking story. All three are still broadcast via antenna but have expanded their offerings with digital stations and live streaming. (I am not affiliated with any of the stations.)

  2. Unfortunately, all news outlets in Sacramento have swallowed – hook, line, and sinker – the mayor’s assertion that tax breaks and waived fees and costs are not public money because the revenue stream would not have existed without the stadium (or some other development, which of course would never happen). Steinberg wants Sacramento to be a “world-class” city and apparently that cannot happen without at least two major-league teams. This $33 million is on top of money the city has already spent to build roads and other infrastructure to support a stadium.

  3. Call me jaded, but if they really end up building a $252 million stadium with just $33 million being spent in public money (and most of that being tax breaks and waived fees) that will be one of the best deals in recent memory. That sounds just WAY too good to be true.

  4. Also, Ron Burkle was Mario Lemieux’s money man at the Pittsburgh Penguins when they were pretending to want to go to Kansas City in order to squeeze a new arena out of the city.

  5. Guess Sacramento didnt learn there lesson as they have an unfinished baseball stadium next to Arco Arena
    Cant believe this continues to go on.

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