Parking fees eyed for arena financing

Published: Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 - 8:32 am

Drivers who fail to feed the parking meters in Sacramento could find themselves helping finance a downtown sports and entertainment complex.

City officials said Thursday they are looking at ticket revenues as part of a still-forming plan to lease city parking services to a private company for cash.

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said a consultant's early analysis has found that the value of city garages, parking meters and ticketing revenues is significant – perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars – and could play a key role in generating upfront cash to launch construction of an arena.

"We're working on getting to a more precise market value for our parking asset(s)," Dangberg said. "The range we are looking at today has potential to provide significant value to the entertainment and sports complex, if the council chooses to proceed."

The idea of leasing city garages and street parking services to a private operator in exchange for cash was first broached last month by the mayor's Think Big Sacramento arena task force. It was listed in a menu of funding options the group presented to the City Council. Also included is a per-ticket fee of several dollars on people who attend concerts, games and other events at a new arena, and an undetermined private investment from the company that is expected to operate the facility for the city.

The city has employed several consultants – inluding Los Angeles-based Walker Parking – to determine how parking assets might be leveraged in an arena deal.

The city is under pressure to come up with a financing plan by March 1 for an estimated $387 million events facility in the downtown railyard to replace aging Power Balance Pavilion in Natomas – and to keep the Sacramento Kings from leaving town.

If the city, private investors, and the Kings don't come to some type of agreement by then, Kings officials have said they are likely to move the team to another city.

The city analysis of its parking facilities should be done by early December, Dangberg said. City staff is expected to brief the City Council on Dec. 13. Dangberg said staff may request council permission in December to solicit private company interest in paying to run the city's parking operations.

City Councilman Rob Fong said any parking funds used for an arena would have to be replaced by revenues from other sources to replenish any annual parking revenue loss to the city general fund, which pays for basic city services. That amount is undetermined, but could be at least $6 million annually.

Under the current concept, the city would be owner of the arena, to be built by 2015. Construction management would be handled by local developer David Taylor and his partner, ICON Venue Group. A third entity, national arena manager AEG, is in discussions to operate the facility.

Taylor said he, ICON and AEG have talked several times recently about financial arrangements with the city as well as the NBA and the Sacramento Kings. The Kings would be the lead tenant in the arena. That casts them in a very different role from their current status at Power Balance Pavilion, where they operate the facility and control all revenues.

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