Sacramento Mayor Evaluates Arco

Mayor Kevin Johnson warns that the Sacramento Kings could leave town for better facilities if Arco Arena isn’t soon replaced.

His comments come after the NCAA passed on the aging arena, which put in a bid to host the regional round of the men’s basketball tournament, the Sacramento Bee reported. Arco Arena has hosted the event four times since 1994.

“If we don’t have a clear path to an arena in the not too distant future, then we as Sacramentans need to know that [the Kings] very well may look elsewhere,” Johnson said.

Officials claimed that hosting the 2007 NCAA round brought in $4 million to the local economy.

Sacramento Sports Commission officials were told the city’s bid to host tournament games through 2013 was denied because of concerns over conditions at Arco.

“They said, ‘I hope you will consider bidding in the future when you get your arena issues resolved,” sports commission executive director John McCasey told the Bee.

Johnson, a former NBA star, said it was “staggering and mind-boggling” that the arena is no longer considered suitable for top college basketball. He says he wants to see an arena proposal for Cal Expo take more solid form by the end of the year.

A multibillion-dollar Cal Expo plan was unveiled in March including an arena for the Kings, but financing is still uncertain.

Voters in the region shot down two proposals to raise county sales tax to partially fund a new arena in 2006.

NBA representative John Moag, who is leading the NBA’s three-year effort to build the arena at Cal Expo, told the Bee he understands the mayor’s frustration.

“I think the mayor is expressing a sense of where we all are,” Moag said. “We are in a bad economy in a state that doesn’t have any money. Lending has dried up. We can’t force developers to borrow money they can’t get.”