Sacramento officials will wait until January to seek arena parking deal interest

Published: Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Sacramento officials say they will wait until January to solicit private company interest in leasing downtown garages as part of an arena financing deal – despite a push by the mayor's office to move more quickly.

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said city staffers were initially looking at Dec. 22 as the potential date for soliciting private company interest but moved the date to Jan. 9 after consultants advised waiting until companies have offices up and running again in the new year.

The city faces a March 1 deadline, set earlier this year by the NBA, to come up with a financing plan for an arena to replace aging Power Balance Pavilion in Natomas. If not, the league would give the Kings approval to move to a new city.

The city is considering privatizing its downtown parking services to raise upfront cash – estimated at $200 million – to help pay for the facility.

Dangberg said the city expects to be able to present the results of the parking lease solicitation to the City Council by mid-February, and to have an arena financing arrangement on paper by then to share with the NBA, the Kings and other private investors.

Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof recently told the Bee they believe the March 1 deadline is flexible. But officials with Mayor Kevin Johnson's office say they are focused on having a deal in hand by the beginning of March. In a statement issued Friday, a mayoral spokesman expressed a sense of urgency.

"Every day counts in this process," mayoral Chief of Staff Kunal Merchant said. "We have a huge March 1 deadline, and a lot of moving parts. We'd prefer not to delay, but certainly trust the city manager and know he's equally committed to meeting our collective timetable."

The upcoming issuance, called a request for qualifications (RFQ), is part of a two-step process that could lead to privatizing downtown garages, parking meters and parking citations.

If the city receives adequate response from its RFQ, officials would ask the City Council to vote to solicit formal privatization bids. That process could take several months. City officials say they believe they can have an arena financing deal in place, however, prior to entering into a contract with the winning bidder.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Tony Bizjak



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