Sacramento arena plan talks to ramp up again

6:11 PM, Jun 11, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - After six weeks of waiting since Plan A fell apart, plotting for Plan B for a new downtown arena will ramp up again this week.

The City of Sacramento will pass a budget Tuesday night, allowing leaders to re-focus their efforts.

Also, on June 18, Kunal Merchant, Mayor Kevin Johnson's Chief of Staff, will leave his post and become the Executive Director of ThinkBIG. His job will focus on building an arena and spurring downtown economic development.

"We are looking at all options right now," Merchant said.
When asked if he could put a percentage of plan completion, he said, "I'm 100 percent certain that if we keep up what we're doing, something is going to stick. I can't tell you if it's going to be in a week, a month, or three years."

The options on the table now are the same ones laid out in April: build an arena without an anchor tenant, like Kansas City did with the Sprint Center, or find a new sport and lure them here.

"Can we build a NBA ready facility without an upfront assurance of an anchor tenant? What we've heard is that's pretty tough to do," Merchant said. "Practically speaking, this project has to make sense for taxpayers and for AEG if they're still a part of it.

So, without doing any real analysis, it does look challenging doing it without an anchor tenant. That doesn't mean we can't do it though."

Merchant said that because questions are once again surfacing, can the Maloofs still afford the Sacramento Kings?

The brothers only own 2 percent of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, and over the weekend its Playboy Club closed.

It appears the Kings' revenue is the only revenue the Maloofs have left, leaving billionaires like Ron Burkle waiting in the wings.

"Certainly there are many people right now that are interested in the franchise," Merchant said. "I don't have a lot of those details, but I think it's safe to say people recognize the opportunity in Sacramento, which deserves to remain a major market, preferably in the NBA and perhaps even beyond that."
As for those other sports, so far hockey and baseball have been mentioned.

By Nick Monacelli,


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