Sacramento's Arena Crisis - Here We Stay
Sacramento - Little City with Big Dreams
Sacramento, California is the capitol of the 7th largest economy in the world. And if you have never been to Sacramento, it has a lot to offer. Sacramento is close to rivers, mountains, oceans, wine country and historical landmarks. One of the oldest cities in California, Sacramento is home to historical sites, art, and culture.
Yet, despite Sacramento's rich history and tradition, Sacramento is not yet considered a big city. Sacramento is dwarfed in size when compared to other California cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose. Hardly anyone outside California knows that Sacramento is the Capitol of California and even fewer understand why. The City of Sacramento simply has a huge inferiority complex and its history is filled with attempts to raise itself up to the ranks of a great city. A current crisis revolving around its current NBA arena could lead Sacramento back to obscurity unless the City and the surrounding region band together.
After years of trying to get a professional sports team, The Kansas City Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985. Immediately, a temporary arena was built to house the Kings and then in 1988 the permanent arena, Arco Arena was opened. For Basketball games, Arco Arena seats 17,317 fans. For over twenty years, Arco Arena was sold out for every game and during the early part of this decade, when the Kings has a team competing for a championship, was known as one of the loudest venues in Sports.
In addition to the 44 home games played by the Kings at Arco Arena, the Arena hosts over 200 other events per year. These include major concerts, high school and college graduations and many other events. But if the City and the surrounding region do not step up and do something, this will all stop. The truth is the owners of the Sacramento Kings, the Moloof family, are in negotiations to move the team out of Sacramento. The most likely destination, Anaheim.
What Needs to Be Done
The truth is obvious, Sacramento and the surrounding region must band together and build a state of the art entertainment arena. Arco Arena is a great old arena. Personally, I graduated high school and college in the arena, been to hundreds of Kings games, seen the Rolling Stones twice and have other great fond memories inside the building. But the arena is old. When watching other NBA games on television and seing the other arenas Arco just cannot compete.
But the argument for a new arena is more than just for basketball, events or anything else. Sacramento needs a state of the art entertainment venue because Sacramento must show itself to be a state of the art city. So much about Sacramento is about its history that sometimes the City, its planners, its leaders and even its citizens fail to look out for its future. Sacramento is a great town, but every time it has a chance to grow into a state of the art city, it gets in its own way. This is why a giant luxury apartment building was not built and there is a giant hole in downtown Sacramento where the construction started but stopped. This is why no other professional sports teams have moved here. This is why Sacramento is so often overlooked by business and entrepreneurs and they set up shop in San Jose or San Francisco. This is why the Air Force bases closed. This is why Sacramento is not known as a great City. Sacramento does not act like a great City, so why should anyone consider it to be one?
So many in Sacramento ask why should anyone care if the Kings leave and Arco remains the premier entertainment venue in the region? The answers are as numerous as they are simple. First, Sacramento would be the biggest media market in the Country without a professional sports team if the Kings left. Second, the Sacramento Kings bring jobs and untold monies to Sacramento when you consider that bars, pizza parlors and restaurants are simply busier on days that Kings play.
But more important than all of this is the image it would leave if the Kings leave. If the Kings leave it means that a professional franchise has deemed the Greater Sacramento area as NOT FINANCIALLY VIABLE. How would that stamp look on a postcard? Further, should the Kings leave it would tell the Country that Sacramento could not handle being treated as a Great City. It would leave the image that Sacramento is a small market that cannot support a professional team. It would mean that Sacramento is small. For a City that has tried so hard to get over its inferiority complex to the bigger cities in California, losing its only professional franchise to the LA area which already has two NBA teams will do nothing but set the area back 25 years. And worst off, it will be our own fault.
So get it together Sacramento, build the new arena. Stop quibbling about dollars and cents. This means more than a budget sheet. This is about the future, and if you can't see that Mayor Kevin Johnson or any of the other leaders of Sacramento, then you are not leading and under your watch Sacramento will fall into the oblivion. And for those of us paying attention, your political careers will fall into the same oblivion.
OUR TOWN, OUR TEAM:: GO KINGS!!!!
Update - Nearly A Year Later
Nearly a year after the above was written, Sacramento is still struggling with this issue. The Kings agreed to give the area 1 year, until March 1, the get a solid plan in place for financing a new Entertainment and Sports Complex. A year has almost passed and the funding idea is to lease/sell the City's parking lot rights to a private party for a long period of time. This idea costs the taxpayers of Sacramento nothing out of pocket and will most likely get the deal done and the arena built.
Yet, there are members of the Sacramento City Council who are standing in the way. The worst culprit is Sandy Sheedy. Sheedy has conducted "polls" showing that voters want to have a say as to whatever plan is put into place, despite the fact that that no tax dollars will be used. Never mind the poll was a push poll. Never mind the fact that the poll contained leading and misleading questions. Facts and logic don't stand in Sandy Sheedy's way and she has done nothing but try to stall the process at every turn relying on her "numbers." Worst yet, Sheedy is not going to run for re-election so she is basically going to cut and run.
What Sheedy either doesn't understand, or refuses to acknowledge, is that Sacramento must find new streams of revenue. What the great Recession has taught us is that the revenue that comes from being a Capital City is not infinite. It is not guaranteed. For too long Sacramento has relied on this revenue stream as the foundation of its economy. That foundation has now been exposed to have many fractures and unless Sacramento does something big to bring in new revenue and revitalize itself, that foundation will break. Sandy Sheedy and others who refuse to acknowledge this reality are hurting the City and the region. Ms. Sheedy, of course, will be nowhere to be found when this happens. But I am sure she will have one of her "polls" ready to claim that what happened to Sacramento was not her fault.
Since the last update, the City of Sacramento stepped up and put forward an arena deal. Initially, the Maloofs agreed to the deal. They even celebrated at center Court with the Mayor of Sacramento. Then the backed out of it. They bashed the City of Sacramento on National TV and have done everything in their power to bash the City and its fans.
Today, news broke that the Maloofs are selling the team to a Seattle based group that will move the team to Seattle. This has not been confirmed. Kings fans once again have to unite to try to save their team. The Maloofs, of course, are not saying anything. This is the first time they have appeared willing to sell the team and they only went to an outside group. This is just another in a long line of slaps to the face to the City of Sacramento and Kings fans. If they were willing to sell, why didn't they approach the City? The answer is simple. They want money and want to hurt the fans that have supported this franchise throughout.
The fight might nearly be over. But Kings fans will support their team until it is no longer their team. After that, they will turn that devotion to something else. As for me, I am done with the NBA if the Kings leave. The league is only about money and cares little for the fans. It cares little for the game. As for the Maloof, I and I believe many in Sacramento will boycott anything they touch. And we will be heard.
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