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Sacramento City Council approves arena financing proposal

Jon Wilson

Jon Wilson

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The Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 on March 6 in favor of a nonbinding term sheet to finance a new sports and entertainment complex in the old railyard on the north side of downtown Sacramento.

The term sheet provides the financial responsibilities between the city, the Sacramento Kings and Anschultz Entertainment Group–the arena operator–for financing the $391 million arena.

Under the term sheet, the city will contribute $255.5 million from parking monetization and land sales. The Kings will be required to pay $73.25 million, while AEG will contribute $58.75 million.

“I was happy, excited and very emotional,” said Adriana Ortiz, a 24-year-old psychology major at Cosumnes River College. “I’ve been fighting for a year.”

Ortiz said she attended rallies, wrote letters to city council members and distributed fliers that she made herself.

She said she took her dad’s words to heart: to always believe in something and fight for it, regardless of the odds.

City Hall was at full capacity, as people filled the main chamber, the lobby, the upstairs area and the old City Hall. There were several notable guests, including Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof and Kings rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas.

Attendants who were against the arena spoke first, arguing that the proposal was too risky for a financially-strapped city and that money should be spent on other things, such as education and community centers. They also argued that the public should vote on the issue, since they are the ones bearing the majority of the financial burden for the new arena.

One of the speakers, Kim Sloan, 22, said that the city’s money shouldn’t be used on a “special interest” project, such as Sacramento’s basketball team.

“There’s so many things that [the city’s money] could be helping: education, the homeless issue here, poverty,” Sloan said.

“Wake up, people. This isn’t okay,” she said.

Those in favor of the arena spoke next, arguing that the arena is bigger than basketball and that it will revitalize Sacramento’s economy and provide jobs.

CRC counselor Mike Tavares said he turned down a job opportunity in Anaheim to stay in Sacramento and support the new arena.

“I could’ve easily left and become an Anaheim Royals season ticket holder and bought season passes to Disneyland,” Tavares said. “Instead, I decided to stay here and fight for what I believe in because I love Sacramento so much.”

Tavares talked about his experience visiting the Staples Center in Los Angeles and seeing families having a great time.

“In a way, I was jealous of what that city had, and I wish we had it here too,” Tavares said.

When the vote was tallied, the audience cheered and chanted “Sacramento.”

CRC student Gurpreet Singh, 20, a sociology major, said that the council’s decision was a huge accomplishment for Sacramento.

“That was the biggest hurdle and we got over it,” Singh said.

Singh said that a new arena means more jobs and a better economy for Sacramento.

“That’s the first thing and most important thing because that affects common and regular people more than millionaires and billionaires,” Singh said.

“I think it’s going to give Sacramento a new image,” Singh added.

The approval for the financing plan allows the council to make a series of votes needed to begin construction in 2013.

The council’s next move will be to draft a pre-development agreement, which includes “site design, building design, environmental review, building review and infrastructure,” according to the term sheet.

“It’s a huge investment in our future,” Ortiz said.

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Sacramento City Council approves arena financing proposal