Sacramento city officials began the process Monday of soliciting interest from private companies that want to lease downtown parking facilities a central part of the city's plan to finance a new downtown sports arena.
A request for qualifications from parking operators and investment firms was initially scheduled to be released on Dec. 22, but the process was pushed back until Monday. Consultants told the city to wait until companies had their offices running again in the new year.
City officials said they were confident the delay would not hinder the city's years-long fight to build a new arena, despite an impending March 1 deadline from the National Basketball Association for the city to come up with a financing plan for the $387 million facility.
If that deadline is not met, NBA officials have said they would give the owners of the Sacramento Kings the freedom to once again explore moving the franchise.
Several national and international firms have already expressed informal interest in the city's parking facilities.
City officials hope to generate as much as $200 million in upfront cash for the arena project by leasing downtown parking spaces and garages, as well as enforcement operations.
"We've seen a significant level of interest in this monetization effort," Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said.
Dangberg said that requests would be made to roughly 100 companies. Interested companies will have until Jan. 30 to respond to the request. Dangberg said he plans to present a list of the most qualified companies to the City Council on Feb. 14.
If enough qualified companies express interest in the parking facilities and a viable arena financing plan comes together city staff will recommend to the City Council that a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) be issued to solicit formal privatization bids, a process that could take several months.
Parking operations contribute roughly $9 million a year toward the city's general fund, which pays for most basic services including police, fire and parks. Several members of the City Council have insisted that any arena financing plan that involves privatizing parking facilities include a way of filling that $9 million hole.
In the meantime, city officials are negotiating with the NBA, the Sacramento Kings, arena operator AEG and the development team behind the arena on their financial contributions toward the project.