Field of Schemes
sports stadium news and analysis


This is an archived version of a Field of Schemes article. Comments on this page are closed. To find the current version of the article with updated comments, click here.

March 21, 2012

Sacramento group petitions for Kings arena vote

Throw another obstacle in the path of the still-uncertain Sacramento Kings arena plan: A citizen group calling itself Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (you can figure out the acronym on your own) is gathering petitions to force a November referendum on the deal. Given the way things went the last time there was a public vote on arena funding for the Kings, you have to bet their lawyers are frantically calling Santa Clara to see if there's any way to stop this.


Not quite sure what their approach is on this. It was my understanding that a referendum of a city ordinance requires the signatures within 30 days (30,000 signatures would be more than enough) so they would only have about 16 days left. Furthermore, the March 6th vote was just advisory. Basically, I can see a referendum once they actually vote to issue bonds or actual approve the plan in a non advisory way but I don't quite understand what a referendum at this point will do. Is there really a roadblock here at this very moment with this idea?

Posted by John on March 21, 2012 11:57 AM

I was about to tell STOP about your article in The Nation last year.

Talk about unnecessary!!

Posted by George Dehnel on March 21, 2012 01:27 PM

I'm somewhat in agreement with John here, but I'm not even sure that's true. We cannot tell until we've seen the language on the petition itself. It sounds like the petition would be for an advisory vote, but I'm speculating about that.

So far, all the Council has done is vote to try to put something together. That's the sum total of what they've done. Even if they vote to put the parking concession out to bid, they STILL won't have voted on anything binding -- they can reject all bids.

I don't think the parking concession will be the chosen approach, by the way. I think they're headed for the parking authority approach. By keeping the event-night revenues to themselves, and by entering into that deal with the County, they have successfully crushed the potential value of the parking concession to any bidder. Those bids will come in very low. The Council now understands this point.

So if they decide on the parking authority approach, THEN the voters can stop the Council by petition and the resulting election a petition would force.

I do think it's very likely that 4 Council members would follow the will expressed in an advisory vote, though. Rob Fong, KJ and Ashby would most-likely ignore an advisory vote, but at least 4 of them would take the advice of the voters if an advisory vote passed.

Posted by MikeM on March 21, 2012 04:06 PM

The Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan was built in the same year as Arco. The difference is, that we had an owner that had dignity and self-respect. He paid for renovations, maintenance and improvements on the area over its entire lifespan. There was a period in which I stopped going to Pistons games for about a decade or so. When I went back, I saw how the whole arena was still sparkling and shiny, it was updated with lower-level suites and LED scoreboards and wraparounds, etc. I'm guessing Arco had nothing like that done to it? The owners just put nothing back into it then told the city, "Oh, it's outdated, we need a new one!" What a scam!

I think Bill Davidson was one of the few pro team owners with a conscience. It's a shame that he passed on.

Posted by Roger C. on March 21, 2012 04:34 PM

STOP is a joke. Rich Tolmach says that the group believes that the city is pushing through an unpopular proposal without taking the public's pulse.

Only someone living on the moon could think that way. This arena is going to save Sacramento. There will finally be life in a city void of it. Retail will pop up...restaurants will pop up...real estate/apartments will pop up. As bad as Arco is/was, the biggest problem was that there wasn't anything else around it. You drove to the game...watched the game...left the game. Now, with the new arena, fans will be able to come early, eat at a nice restaurant, WALK to the new arena and then afterwards, in time, have some nightlife around it.

It's a win-win for Sacramento.

Posted by Scott on March 21, 2012 08:01 PM

Apparently it's a vote to require a vote on any arena funding deal. Which means it could be moot by the time it got on ballot in November — they tried something similar in St. Louis, but a judge ruled that you can't retroactively force a vote on something that's already approved, which makes a kind of sense.

It does mean that Sacramento would be under huge pressure to get financing in place by November, though. Normally I wouldn't say that's a huge deal, but given how much is still up in the air here, it could actually be a challenge...

Posted by Neil deMause on March 21, 2012 08:40 PM

As a professional teaching and research economist for 36 years who has read the literature on sports stadiums since the 1960's,I can pass along the bad news for citizens who support the stadium: every competent and unbiased study that has been made on the value of sports stadiums conclude that they are greatly inferior uses of public money than many other public uses to which the money can be put. To whom are our city councilmen beholden, citizens or monied interests?

Posted by P. Lund on March 21, 2012 09:13 PM

Scott, I think you greatly overestimate the impact on the surrounding area by arena goers. Who is going to have time or inclination for a rushed, sit down meal at a restaurant between getting off work and a 7:30 tip? When we attend shows in the bay area (with much,much later start times to work with btw and many more restaurants) we rarely have time to park,walk,eat, and then walk to the venue.And where are they going to eat at 10:30 after the game? Most folks don't go out that late on a worknight and the people who do are going to drive to their local bar to avoid a downtown dui anyway. The vast majority of people are going to use the arena the same way they use all arenas, drive in, drive out. Arenas just don't generate the kind of pedestrian based activities that you envision, especially when the event itself occupies the prime early evening hours.

Posted by Drew on March 21, 2012 10:10 PM

P. Lund,

Take it from me, your council people are there to serve those who want to make a buck from the city.

Posted by santa clara jay on March 21, 2012 10:36 PM

Neil, the signatures are due by the end of May, but the EIR won't even be released until September. No funding will be approved before the end of May. I think your understanding is a little off.

Even at that, I want to actually read the petition before I sign it. I hate the plan so far, but the petition could be even worse.

Scott, you need to do more research. Obviously.

Posted by MikeM on March 21, 2012 10:37 PM

I didn't say anything about May. I said the referendum would be held in November, so if the Kings get an actual arena deal done before then, it could be grandfathered in.

Posted by Neil deMause on March 21, 2012 11:08 PM

Here's the ballot measure:

"The City shall provide no financial support for the development of an Entertainment and Sports Complex (ESC) in the Downtown Railyards site without the approval of a majority of voters."

Posted by MikeM on March 22, 2012 01:59 AM

Sounds pretty innocuous to me. I heard another group was looking to couple this referendum with some recall petitions.

Posted by jjo916 on March 22, 2012 04:43 PM

There should b an advisory vote on the arena. K.J.'s Tal Mahal has all the earmarks of a financial diaster. Extreme hubris is carrying the day. No one has a clue as to how reliable is the $397 million estimate. Where does the addition funds come from if the estimate has been low balled or if there cost overruns, say, of millions of Dollars. The taxpayers?

Posted by Jim Updegraff on March 22, 2012 08:04 PM

I've found being in the real estate biz for the past thirty years, people that are the doom and gloomers naysayers of improvements or revitalization attemps of a old or downtown area have generally 'SPECIAL self INTERESTS!!!

GO NEW KINGS ARENA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Robert on March 25, 2012 02:07 AM

Latest News Items