Randy Pench / rpench@sacbee.com

Where the arena might have been.

Sacramento spent $680,000 in unsuccessful arena drive

Published: Tuesday, May. 8, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 8, 2012 - 9:29 am

The city of Sacramento spent $680,000 between September and April in its unsuccessful effort to build a sports and entertainment center in the railyard, according to an analysis to be presented to the City Council tonight.

The expenditures, preapproved by the council, include $8,000 in travel costs to Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando, Fla., and New York where city officials attempted to negotiate agreements with the Kings, the NBA and private partners for a $391 million facility.

Those expenses do not include Mayor Kevin Johnson's travel bills, which Johnson paid for himself, a city staff report indicates.

City officials said they knew in September when they asked the council for initial funding that the deal might not pan out, but felt the project was worth the investment.

"At that point, we were gaining cautious optimism that we could get this thing financed," Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said. "It turned out we could. But there were issues we couldn't overcome with the team."

The plan fell apart last month when the city and the Kings disagreed on key financing elements.

Most of the $680,000 came from the city's self-funded parking account, not the city general fund.

The single biggest portion, $252,350, went to Barrett Sports Group, the consultancy that served as the city's financing adviser and lead negotiator on the arena deal.

Not all of that money will have gone for nothing, city officials said. The city used a portion of the funds to launch planning for a major transit center the city intends to build in the downtown railyard.

The city also spent about $175,000 for analyses showing that future revenue from city downtown parking garages can be leveraged, under certain conditions, to finance capital improvement projects downtown, not just an arena.

The City Council will be asked tonight to formally rescind funding for further arena pre-development work, although the work itself was halted several weeks ago.

City officials said they are continuing to look into the possibility of financing a downtown sports and entertainment facility without Kings involvement, and are continuing work on redeveloping the downtown site, with or without an arena.

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