Friday, June 27, 2014

Sacramento's New Arena

Arco/Power Balance/Sleep Train Arena, where the Sacramento Kings have played basketball since forever, is on the way out, and for years Sacramento has been discussing building a new arena.

Let me state up front:  I don't care if the Kings stay in Sacramento or not.  I don't think having a pro sports team is what defines a city as being a "great" city, and if the Kings are the only thing between greatness and not, then it's pretty obvious Sacramento is "not".

But I absolutely do not want to pay for a new arena.  If a bunch of rich guys want to pay another bunch of rich guys to bounce a ball around a floor, let them pay for it.  Public financing of this type seldom pays off, and never pays off for the taxpayer.  Here's what I mean:  the taxpayer pays a higher tax to fund the arena, local businesses may or may not get a boost from the new arena, local tax coffers may or may not swell--but the taxpayer doesn't get to see any of that money in his pocket!  No, government officials will distribute that money to those that they see as more worthy.  So no, Darren doesn't want to pay a cent towards a new arena.  I'm still seething when, as a resident of Alameda County, my taxes went up to pay for the "Mount Al Davis" addition to the Oakland Coliseum to "lure" the Raiders back to Oakland.  Al Davis wasn't missing any meals, but back then I was having a tough time making ends meet.  What benefit did I get for paying to have the Raiders in Oakland?

I think I've been pretty clear on where I stand on this topic.  That having been said, I don't support this, either:
A group asking the Sacramento Kings to pay for affordable housing and assist small businesses downtown filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the city’s approval of the environmental impact report for the planned downtown arena.

The Sacramento Coalition for Shared Prosperity said in a news release that the environmental report did not “disclose, analyze or mitigate impacts to local street traffic, air quality and climate change” created by an arena at Downtown Plaza. The group also said the arena “would disproportionately impact the health and safety of low-income residents"...

Members of the coalition that filed the suit include the Sacramento Housing Alliance and the Environmental Council of Sacramento. Those groups want the Kings and the city to sign a community benefits agreement that would fund $40 million worth of affordable housing and set aside money to help small businesses that might be affected by the construction of the new arena...

A separate lawsuit filed by a citizens group charged that the arena would lead to traffic disruptions and riots in downtown Sacramento.
Riots? Really? I'd love to see evidence for that claim.  And a new arena will affect climate change?  Who knew Sacramentans could affect the whole planet!

I can't see how it's the responsibility of the Sacramento Kings to pay for so-called affordable housing.  Hey, I have an idea!  Let's have the Kings pay for their own arena, and the City of Sacramento can spend its money, if it so desires, on low-income housing. That would seem to make sense.  Government shouldn't be involved in what is essentially a private business.

Full disclosure:  I don't live in Sacramento proper, but in an incorporated suburb.  If the City of Sacramento pays for that arena it will not affect me.  If Sacramento County decides to get in on the plan, though, then I'm screwed.  I want the Kings to pay for their own playground and leave me out of it.


Anonymous said...

Amazing, I both like and dislike this blog. Being a King's fan, I support the new arena and believe that ultimately it will be beneficial for Sacramento and it's residents with increased revenue (tot, sales tax, city pride, etc). Unfortunately, the down town area where the arena is being built had deteriorated into a unsafe and depressed location. A new arena will pump up down town. Just wait and see.

Darren said...

I believe your prediction is what is known as "wishful thinking". How's Oakland doing?

Can you explain to me how having a sports team gives you pride in your city? I honestly don't get that.

Increased revenues? I believe that! But the *taxpayer* won't see any of those revenues. "Just wait and see."

Anonymous said...

Downtown Sacramento has been "pumped up" unsuccessfully multiple times. I can't wait for the next wave boutique overpriced jeans stores (like the one that used to be next to what is now Estelle's) to open and close :)

Terri G said...

As a former Kings season ticket holder, I have always been opposed to the idea of a downtown arena. We have a perfectly good place out in Natomas for a new arena with access to both major freeways for entry and egress from the area. The Downtown Plaza area is over-run with homeless people, who I really don't want to run into at night after a game. Parking will not be convenient, and my mom, who I attended games with, is handicapped and parking at any distance will be a major deterrent to attending anything at a downtown arena location.

I agree that if one is built, it should be built by the team, no public funds. The Kings want a new "playground", then they can build it themselves. Taxpayers will see no "revenue" in this equation... and whoever says they will needs a remedial math class.

The lawsuit regarding affordable housing being a responsibility of the arena builders is off-base. How can one company make sure that a different company include affordable housing in their plans to develop around the downtown arena? Affordable housing is an important issue, but not one that should be tied to the arena project.

Auntie Ann said...

Don't count on being in the clear on taxing. Miller Park in Milwaukee was financed in part by levying taxes on people far-flung from Milwaukee or Milwaukee County. The trick for doing that went like this: There was an elected body which didn't have the power to levy such a tax. They created an unelected body and, with some slight of hand, gave them the power to tax. That unelected body then did what it was created to do and levied the tax.

Shockingly, that passed muster with the courts.

maxutils said...

Darren ... I will agree with you about Oakland. Being a Raiders fan forever, I had a vested interest in them coming back nearer to me, bit Al took it to the city BAD, and two things compounded this : He built seats so far away from the field that no one wanted to buy them, and people didn't. The A's have long tarped them off except for playoffs, and the Raiders began doing it recently so that they could have 'sellouts' and be on TV. Second, the Coliseum is nowhere near downtown, lies in a mostly residential district that has a high crime rate.
The downtown arena will not have those problems. From what I have seen, it is beautifully designed, does not over exten seating capacity, offers amenities for non ticket buyers, and preserves the ony three things making the city any money on that spot: the theaters, River City Brewing, and Macy's ... and, I don't know how many downtown arenas/ballparks you've been to, But I've been to a bunch: Seattle, Denver, Baltimore Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and SanDiego. With the exception of Boston and Chicago, each one has taken a bad part of town and turned it into a thriving neighborhood and strengthened the tax base. Denver and SF are particularly notable in this regard.
I understand your argument about the taxpayers not benefitting directly, and it is not without merit ... but, in theory, at least, a larger property tax base means they could lower tax rates ... but even if they don't do that, they don't need to cut as many services, they can repair infrastructure, and not raise taxes. They can lower the special Sac sales tax down to what it used to be. Plus, you live in the county so you're not paying for it anyway.
Terri-parking may very well be a mess, so I offer you this solution: why not get out of your car and take the Light rail, which will drop you directly across the street from the Arena ... I wouldn't dream of taking a car to an event. This , of course means we need to coordinate with Regional Transit so that more trains run, and later, on event days, but it's exceedingly convenient, way cheaper than parking and gas ... If you're coming rom out of town, there are plenty of park 'n' rides to leave your car. The lawsuit is ridiculous ... but again, more money to the city will allow for funding of more shelters, and then those awful homeless people are less likely to bother you.