Sacramento arena financing plan on track to be released Thursday

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:13 pm

The frantic process of hammering out a financing plan for a new downtown sports arena has reached its most pivotal day.

Sacramento city officials said Tuesday night they remain on track to release a plan Thursday that will lay out how they intend to pay for an arena at the site of the Downtown Plaza.

City Manager John Shirey said he believes "we'll still make that deadline" of releasing a proposal Thursday, but that "it will take every minute between now and then to achieve that."

"We're still on track," Shirey told the City Council, adding "it's still a work in progress at this moment."

It has been an intense effort. Shirey's office has been negotiating with billionaire Ron Burkle over the financing plan for less than a month.

The city manager wants the term sheet released for public viewing by Thursday to give the City Council five days to examine the proposal before a council vote Tuesday. Shirey said he would notify the City Council if a deal is not reached with Burkle by the end of business today.

Responding to calls from the public and City Council, Shirey has also scheduled three public forums on the plan, starting with a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

Burkle and Mark Mastrov, the founder of the 24 Hour Fitness chain, have teamed up on a bid to purchase the Kings. That pitch has been filed with the National Basketball Association in the event that the league rejects a deal the team's owners have with a group in Seattle seeking to move the Kings to the Pacific Northwest.

An arena financing plan is seen as a pivotal peg of the Burkle and Mastrov bid. Mayor Kevin Johnson plans to present Sacramento's case – including a team purchase offer and arena plan – to the NBA on April 3. The contingent from Seattle will also make a pitch to the league that day.

The NBA's board of governors, made up of the 30 franchise owners, will decide the issue at its annual meeting April 18 and 19 in New York.

Many factors remain unclear in the city's arena plan.

The city is expected to contribute the majority of the financing, but the exact amount of that subsidy is still unknown.

Most of that financing is expected to be generated by revenue bonds backed by downtown parking spaces and garages. The city also expects to contribute land to Burkle in the hopes that he will develop those parcels.

That land could include city-owned properties along the 800 block of K Street that have sat dormant for years.

While Burkle has proposed building the facility at the site of the lagging Downtown Plaza, he has not publicly said where in the mall's footprint he plans to construct an arena.

A price tag of the development has also not been released, although sources close to the deal have previously told The Bee the project would cost roughly $400 million.

Call The Bee's Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at sacbee.com/citybeat. Follow him on Twitter @ryan_lillis.

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