Sacto Arena Deal Reached

City officials in Sacramento have agreed to build a new arena for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings that will cost a projected $470 million to $542 million, pending voter approval.

Maloof Sports & Entertainment, which owns the team and current home Arco Arena, would contribute about $122 million to the project. The company, owned by the Maloof family, agreed to sign a 30-year lease, contribute $20 million to a repair fund for the new building and pay off its existing $72 million loan from the city.

The building would be financed largely by a countywide quarter-cent sales tax, which could bring in a projected $1.2 billion over 15 years. Tax law stipulates that the money would have to be divided between the arena and other public projects.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to put the tax proposal on the ballot after a public comment session July 25th.

A confirmation vote is scheduled for August 2nd but the results are expected to be identical.

The deal comes after years of negotiations between the Maloofs and public officials and rumors that the family might move the Kings to Las Vegas, where George Maloof owns and operates the Palms Casino Resort.

Under the agreement, the Kings would be responsible for the venue’s operating costs and would reap all revenues from events, food and beverage sales, parking and any naming rights deals. The city and county would be responsible for any cost overruns.

The new arena is planned as the anchor of a sports and entertainment district in downtown Sacramento’s vacant railyard. The venue is projected to have a capacity of about 18,000 and could be completed by 2010, according to the Maloofs.

The privately held Arco Arena would be demolished and the land sold.

Opponents of the plan said the county has better things to spend taxpayers’ money on, including flood protection and education, and that the deal amounts to a public subsidy of a lucrative private enterprise.

But backers said the deal is comparable with those in similar NBA markets.

Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, the lone dissenting vote on the board, voiced concerns about the nature of the proposed tax.

The plan calls for a general-purpose sales tax increase, which requires only a simple majority of voters to pass. Critics say the proposal qualifies as a special-purposes tax increase, which requires a two-thirds majority.

The Maloofs said they have no “plan B” in case the tax is rejected by voters in November.

“We don’t think negative like that,” Joe Maloof said. “It’s not going to be a no. It’s going to be a yes.”