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Katy Grimes

Sacto arena deal violates public policy and public trust

The dubious arena deal in Sacramento has strange bedfellows aligning. The lack of public debate, the fishy numbers put out by the city, and the deceit about the growing public subsidy has angered many voters. Now legislation by Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento would let the stadium developers avoid a real environmental impact review in order to forge ahead without public debate.

But it gets even uglier. I have written extensively about this bad “public-private deal” — a bureaucratic expression which should always generate skepticism.

The Steinberg bill, which will be formally introduced today, would allow the city to bypass addressing real traffic impacts in its Environmental Impact Report on the arena project. According to several analysts I’ve spoken with, the bill… Read More

Katy Grimes

Politicians seek special enviro deal on arena

This is Part One of a two-part series.

The unusually speedy approval of a new NBA arena for the Kings basketball team in the heart of downtown Sacramento leaves many details and unanswered questions on the table, including how this arena project possibly will be completed and ready for opening by 2015.

Approved by the Sacramento City Council, the latest plan uses overstated revenue projections, grossly overstated projected attendance numbers and city-owned parking garages to sweeten the finances. As with all of the previous schemes to keep the Sacramento Kings in town in a luxurious arena, neither city officials nor local news media have ever… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento arena: A ‘Field of Schemes’

Sacramento officials have lost all ability to reason, and instead are letting emotions and delusions of grandeur drive their decision over a downtown sports arena.

Arenas are nothing more that fields of schemes, and the joke is on taxpayers. And Sacramento is hardly a bastion of economic splendor. Despite some of the highest unemployment in the country, escalating business closures, widespread home foreclosures and short sales, and declining tax revenue, arena talks are all the rage in Sacramento.

Judith Grant Long’s data on full public cost of stadiums and arenas is groundbreaking. “Where most ‘stadium cost’ charts just rely on self-reporting by teams, Harvard researcher Long has actually attempted to calculate the public and private costs of every major-league stadium and arena in North America, including hidden subsidies like free land, lease breaks, and tax exemptions,” Field of Schemes Neil deMause wrote.

It’s as if the Mayor is so enamored of the idea of driving away from the car dealership in a new Maserati, he’s forgotten he can’t afford… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacramento jumps the shark on arena deal

Some people want something so badly, they’ll sell their souls to the devil, they’ll ignore facts, reason and important details. A case in point is Sacramento politicians, and the ongoing arena obsession.

Sacramento’s Mayor Kevin Johnson, tweeted Saturday evening he and city officials have reached a $447.7 million arena deal at the Downtown Plaza with a public-private partnership.

There’s only one problem — Sacramento can’t afford it.

Billed as “the largest redevelopment project in city history,” the project will have up to 1.5 million square feet of offices, housing, stores and a high-rise hotel.

The deal would require the city to commit “$258 million in value, or 58 percent of the arena cost,” according to the Sacramento Bee. “Of that, $212 million would come from selling bonds backed by future revenues from city downtown parking… Read More

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