Sacramento's arena war flared again Thursday as arena supporters called on an Orange County political action committee and its Sacramento affiliate to reveal who is financing a petition drive to put the city's arena subsidy plan on the ballot.
In a press statement, Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce President Roger Niello said he wonders if someone from Anaheim is behind the effort to put the $448 million arena deal to a public vote.
Anaheim officials unsuccessfully attempted to entice the Sacramento Kings to Southern California two years ago. At the time, a group from Sacramento launched a petition drive in that city in an attempt to foil Anaheim's plans.
"I am troubled by the fact that there is an Orange County group trying to influence our region without being open and honest as to exactly whom they are," Niello said in the release issued by DowntownArena.org, a group of business and building industry interests. "I have to wonder if there is some connection with Anaheim of past efforts."
Sacramento city officials recently signed a deal to build a downtown arena to keep the team here under new ownership. Under that deal, the city of Sacramento has pledged to commit $258 million to the project, backed mainly by future downtown parking revenue. The city would own the arena, which would be built at Downtown Plaza. The city subsidy includes turning over several city parcels to the Kings, and giving the team the rights to electronic billboard sites.
A local group that calls itself STOP, Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, teamed up last month with Orange County-based Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods to launch a petition drive to place a measure on the June 2014 ballot that would require a public vote on city subsidies for sports facilities.
Representatives of the Orange County PAC have refused requests by The Sacramento Bee to identify the group's financial backers. A Los Angeles-based spokesman for the group this week sent The Bee an email saying he doesn't know who is heading his group or funding it. That spokesman, Jonathan Wilcox, could not be reached Thursday. A local representative, political consultant Tab Berg, declined comment, but pointed out that any funds raised by the political group after June 30 will be legally reportable in October.
Julian Camacho, one of the members of STOP, a small group of Sacramento activists, said he is happy the Orange County PAC volunteered to fund the election effort – which includes paying petition gatherers $1.75 per signature – but declined this week to offer any details about the group.
Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.