Editorial: Arena case should stay in Sacramento

Published: Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 - 11:37 am

The owners of a pivotal parcel for the proposed downtown arena are claiming that they can’t get a fair shake in Sacramento.

Please.

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that this city is divided on the arena. If the city’s eminent domain lawsuit ever gets to a jury, there is little doubt that an impartial one can be found.

This is clearly a bid to drive up the price by threatening further delay of the project.

Superior Court Judge Robert C. Hight is expected to rule today on the change of venue, which also hinges on a technical question of whether the parcel’s owners do business in Sacramento.

If he dismisses the motion, a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday on the city’s request that the property be transferred, with the price to be determined later by a jury. That would keep the arena project on schedule for a groundbreaking this fall so that it can open by September 2016.

When the Kings bought Downtown Plaza, the deal did not include the former Macy’s men’s store, which sits on the southeast corner of the arena footprint. The City Council has authorized the eminent domain action, though the Kings would actually pay for the property, plus legal costs. The arena, which would be owned by the city, is a proper use of condemnation power.

The team is far apart on price with the parcel’s owners, CalPERS and investors represented by U.S. Bank. While CalPERS isn’t contesting the city’s eminent domain lawsuit, the lawyer representing the investors is seeking a “neutral venue,” perhaps Alameda County.

At a hearing last Thursday, a lawyer for the city said Sacramento “can’t afford this gamesmanship.”

He’s right. The sooner there’s a settlement, the better for all concerned.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial was changed to clarify that CalPERS isn’t opposing the city’s eminent domain action.

Read more articles by the Editorial Board



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