For about 25 years, the Sacramento Sports Commission drew national sporting events to the region. It took less than 15 minutes for the Sacramento City Council to decide to disband it.
In the wake of a scathing audit that revealed the sports commission owes the city $400,000 from last year's World Masters Athletics Championships, the City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday night to cut off funding for the commission and consolidate the panel into the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Mayor Kevin Johnson was absent from the vote. The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to cut off its funding of the commission in January.
The convention bureau will receive $141,000 in funding from the city for sports marketing and will replenish the city coffers for the $400,000 owed by a nonprofit foundation aligned with the sports commission.
"I think we need to be accountable," said Councilman Jay Schenirer. "I think this is the right solution."
Other council members expressed support for a continued effort to attract and operate sporting events in the city.
Over the years, the sports commission has helped attract large-scale events to Sacramento, including the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
"The thing I don't want to be lost in all of this is all the good work that's been done over the years," said Councilman Rob Fong.
"As we continue to brand the city of Sacramento, I think it's important for the people who live here to enjoy the high-quality sporting events that the commission has brought to town."
The commission had fallen on tough times recently, losing out on a bid this month to host NCAA men's basketball tournament games.
The track and field trials moved to Oregon, and some smaller events have also left town.
City officials described the financial situation of the masters event as the last straw.
The audit discovered that not only had the loan not been repaid, but that it was impossible to tell whether the loan had actually been spent on the event and not other sports commission operations.
By folding the sports commission into the convention bureau, city officials will receive annual updates on how the bureau's sports marketing budget is being spent.
Sports commission executive director John McCasey was traveling Tuesday and was unavailable for comment.
Steve Hammond, the head of the convention bureau, said the transition of sports marketing operations to his agency would be smooth.
The department has already held several sporting events in the area, including the U.S. Tennis Association's West Coast championships, the NCAA women's rowing championships and the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Gold Rush Softball Tournament.
Hammond said the bureau also had "high on its radar" events that have not returned to the city in years.
"We will revisit every major group that has been in Sacramento and try to bring them back, and some of those conversations are already taking place," he said.