Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton: Let's push for the Kings, then move on

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

One way or another, this Kings saga can't end soon enough for the good of the Sacramento region.

Let's settle it already. Either the Kings stay or they go, but please – no more limbo and time-wasting speculation beyond April when the NBA is poised to settle where the Kings will reside.

Sacramento has pressing priorities demanding attention. Chief among them is pumping up Sacramento's retail tax base to better pay for police, fire, parks and other city services gutted by years of recession. Neighborhoods like downtown, Lemon Hill, Oak Park and others on the wrong end of past building cycles deserve the benefits of planning and economic development.

A downtown arena to house the Kings and showcase premiere entertainment events could be a way to revitalize a sagging urban core, the primary reason I'd love for the team to stay here. Should any of us be fans of subsidies for billionaires? No. Are many of us fans of downtown Sacramento? Yes. Absolutely.

If Mayor Kevin Johnson follows through on his promise to recruit big-money equity partners to bid for the Kings as a downtown tenant, then great. There are many civic reasons for Sacramento officials to try, despite the criticisms of those who oppose subsidies for pro sports.

If you believe the rumors, Johnson could name his big-money "whales" as soon as Thursday at his State of the City address.

Who knows? What's intriguing is the possibility of an arena that would connect Capitol Mall, the Downtown Plaza and Old Sacramento in an office and entertainment district. Business insiders are giddy at the possibilities because there really is no good reason for downtown Sacramento to be an undervalued asset.

Unlike other cities, there are no nightmarish neighborhoods with entrenched social scars to prevent the growth of a more vital downtown Sacramento.

What's the worst you can say about downtown? That it is plagued by too many fare jumpers on Regional Transit trains? Some single room occupancy hotels could be cleaned up?

These are fixable problems. Past bad landlords ruining downtown have been bought out. Many unused properties are now under city control and poised for an economic rebound.

Yes, the addition of major players such as grocery magnate Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov as Kings owners could be exciting for downtown.

But if the Seattle bid to steal the Kings proves too tempting for the NBA – a strong possibility – then let's move on as a community trying to position itself to flourish in the next economy.

Mayor KJ is playing to win and that's great. But many huge priorities would remain in Sacramento with or without the Kings.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton, news columnist

Marcos Breton

Hello, my name is Marcos Breton and I'm the news columnist with The Sacramento Bee. What's a columnist supposed to do? I'm supposed to make you think, make you laugh, make you mad or make you see an issue in a different way. I'm supposed to connect the dots on issues, people and relationships that cause things to happen or prevent them from happening in our region. I also write a weekly baseball column during the baseball season. I am a voter in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yes, I have voted for Barry Bonds - twice. I am a native of Northern California. I am the son of Mexican immigrants. I've been at The Bee for more than 20 years, and I love Sacramento.

Phone: 916-321-1096
Twitter: @MarcosBreton

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