You'll notice I titled this as my "issues" with building an arena for the Sacramento Kings. Let me state that I don't want the Kings to leave. However, I am fundamentally opposed to building an arena under the current plan and I'm even more opposed to dealing with the Maloofs for the following reasons:
1) If this arena plan is sooooo great for the citizens of Sacramento, then why isn't it good enough for private investors? Why would private investors bypass a great deal in favor of kindly handing it over to the fine citizens of Sacramento? Because it's not a good deal. A lot of pro-Kings people who defend the Maloofs state that we shouldn't hate on them because, after all, NBA basketball is a business and they're just trying to make a buck like every other business. Well, if the arena was a good deal, they would try to capitalize on it as a good business opportunity. But they're passing on it because it's not just a bad deal, it's a crappy deal. Having taxpayers pay for the arena is another way of privatizing gain and democratizing risk. This is the same BS that happened on Wall Street that pissed people off. Don't lie to us and tell us it's a great deal. Arenas are rarely, if ever, good for taxpayers. If they were a good deal, private money would be there to finance this project.
And to that moron Grant Napier, who likes to use the Stapes center as Exhibit A of how Sacramento would benefit from an arena, let me point out that the Staples Center is entirely privately owned (by AEG) and is home to two NBA franchises, an NHL franchise, and numerous other professional sports teams (WNBA and arena league football, among others). Also, it's in L-freeking-A, the ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. Star musical acts like U2 and Madonna can sell out 3-4 nights in LA. They won't even come to Sacramento. There is something booked in the Staples Center more often than not. So comparing the broad use of an arena in Sacramento to the Staples Center is stupid. I'm sure Grant would respond to this lowly blog if he wasn't busy screaming at Bill from Elk Grove for being so ignorant for thinking the Maloofs aren't the greatest guys on the planet.
2) Many people think that the Kings are the linchpin to us being a vibrant metropolis. You know what's more important to being seriously considered as being a vibrant metropolis? Working sewers. The sewer infrastructure in Sacramento is terribly outdated and needs repair. It's been documented. Why would we mortgage our downtown parking revenues (or any public revenues for that matter) for an arena when our basic infrastructure is on par with Croatia's? And it's not just our sewers. We have no money for police, parks, the homeless, etc., but we can use creative financing to finance an arena? Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, back a few years ago when people used creative financing to buy homes they couldn't afford. How did that work out?
Two more points on this issue: some people say "Reg, you're a construction guy. You teach construction management. How can you be against such a cool construction project that will create so many jobs?" I'm not against cool construction projects. In fact, I have a lot of friends that work for the company that has already been selected to build the arena should the project go through. But I'm simply against stupidly cool construction projects that use my tax dollars when we have bigger fish to fry. Sewers may be the furthest thing from sexy, but they too create jobs. (Enter "shitty jobs" pun here)
Secondly, for all of those that think it's a good idea to use parking revenue to cover the costs of the stadium, ask people living in Chicago how much they enjoy having their city parking privatized. People in the midwest are incredibly nice and Chicago is no exception. But if you want to anger a Chicgoan, ask them about the privatization of city parking lots and parking meters. No one is happy with the arrangement. Why replicate their disdain here? I recently got a parking ticket (totally my fault--I wasn't paying attention). The fine on the parking ticket didn't bother me as much as all the additional "fees" added to it. Under privatization, it will be much worse. And the cost you actually pay for parking (should you not want to risk a ticket) will go up astronomically. We have enough trouble getting people to go downtown now. Why scare people off with a jacked up parking regime?
3) The Kings are not what make Sacramento unique. The only people I know that feel that the Kings make Sacramento a real city don't actually live in Sacramento. They live in the suburbs that don't have an identity (and are happy for us in Sacramento to foot the bill for an arena). Here's what makes Sacramento great: Second Saturday, with people walking around and enjoying live music and great food. Mild winters and awesome summers, with the ocean 1.5 hours away to the west and the mountains 1.5 hours away to the east. Vibrant universities that churn out an educated workforce. Start-up companies that are working on the forefront of medical and clean technologies (I know that we're nowhere near Silicon Valley, but we're making headway). It's the Rivercats locally, and two NFL teams, two MLB teams, an NBA team and an NHL team less than three hours away (and let's face it, Northern California favors baseball and football, not basketball). It's the American River Trail or any of the other great parks we have that are in the center of a tapestry of wonderful neighborhoods. If you think that the only thing going for Sacramento is the Kings, you're not seeing the best parts of Sacramento.
4) Even if, for some reason, I could be swayed to support the use of public money for an arena, I would still be against it for one other simple reason: why would any rational person in government, representing tax-paying constituents, opt to enter into an agreement with the Maloofs? Why do we want a franchise run by those idiots in our city? The only smart thing the brothers Maloof have ever done is to frame this entire issue around an arena. The simple fact of the matter is the Maloofs want to move is because they happened to ruin a family fortune in one generation and they're desperately trying to find a way to stave off bankruptcy. Let's recap the Maloof's recent business handiwork: they inherited a Coors distributorship that covered New Mexico and Southern Nevada. But that's not a big deal because there's no beer consumed in Las Vegas. Ever. But anyway, they parlayed that into the Palms Casino and the Kings. Not bad. What do they have now? Beer distribitorship = gone. Ownership of the Palms = 2%. All the have left are the Kings. Pro franchises are great for people with a ton of dough. But they're lousy businesses for people that need regular cash flow (ask Frank McCourt). The Maloofs are broke and they think a shell game of moving the Kings from one city to another will fix the problem of them being lousy businessmen. Who seriously thinks it will be a good idea to move the team to Anaheim when they will be under the crippling debt loaned to them by Henry Samuli and the team will be the third favorite basketball team in the region....behind the Clippers? (Fourth if you include the LA Sparks.) You can't make this stuff up.
If we were talking about another owner (any other owner) for the Kings, maybe I would be more receptive. But the Maloofs have to go. Period.
I grew up in the Sacramento area, so I'm a homer. I lived here before the Kings were here, and I'll be here after. In between, my wife and I lived in Berkeley for 10 years, where we regularly attended SF Giants and 49er games. Hell, I even was a partner in Warrior season tickets (the year Latrell Spreewell chocked his coach. Maybe that's why I hate the NBA...). It was great to have access to professional sports. But that's not what makes the bay area cool. It's the friends you have and the community you live in. It's good food and great jobs. Sacramento has those things too and will continue to have them after the Kings are gone. Plus, we may even get our sewers fixed.