Sacramento city officials are applying a full-court press on Kaiser Permanente to construct a new hospital at the 184-acre Sleep Train Arena site after a new arena is built downtown.
Council members Angelique Ashby and Steve Cohn both made public overtures to the medical giant at Monday’s State of Natomas event. Ashby, who sat next to Kaiser’s chief Sacramento-area physician during the luncheon, has been the most vocal city official seeking to replace the arena with a new hospital when the Kings move into a planned downtown arena in 2016.
“It’s no secret I want a hospital,” she told a room of Natomas business leaders at the Four Points by Sheraton in North Natomas. “And it’s no secret I want a specific hospital.”
Asked later if she thought Kaiser would build a new hospital at the North Natomas arena site, Ashby said she thinks “we have a very good chance.”
Ashby, who represents North Natomas, said she has met with Kaiser officials multiple times about the Sleep Train Arena site. Cohn added that Kaiser is “thinking about” the site as a hospital location.
Kaiser officials have remained noncommittal. Rob Azevedo, the physician-in-chief for the Sacramento-area Kaiser medical group, said the hospital firm is “aggressively looking at building a hospital somewhere in the (Sacramento) area.” In addition to new locations, Kaiser is considering expanding its facility on Morse Avenue.
“We’ve been in discussions throughout the city with multiple people,” Azevedo said. He declined to identify whom the hospital has spoken with or whether Kaiser has negotiated directly with the Sacramento Kings. However, he said there is enough property at Sleep Train Arena for a hospital.
The Kings are receiving 100 acres of city-owned land adjacent to the arena in North Natomas that the team can develop or sell as part of the city’s planned contribution of $258 million to the $448 million arena at Downtown Plaza. The team already owns roughly 84 acres at the site.
Under a plan reviewed by the City Council last year, the Kings and the city were scheduled to develop a project plan or timeline for the Sleep Train Arena site by the end of this month. The redevelopment of the site has been the focus of community meetings and a special task force over the past year.
Any development plan for the site would be contingent upon the elimination of a building moratorium in place for North Natomas while levees are upgraded. That moratorium could be in effect for a few more years – until the federal government allocates the funding needed for the levee upgrades.