Arena

Supreme Court rejects lawsuit over Sacramento Kings arena

A panoramic view shows the new Sacramento Kings arena construction site from the roof of the new practice facility.
A panoramic view shows the new Sacramento Kings arena construction site from the roof of the new practice facility. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The California Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit this week challenging the Sacramento Kings arena project on environmental grounds.

Without comment, the court refused to hear an appeal filed by project opponents led by retired state Department of Transportation director Adriana Saltonstall.

The court’s decision leaves one remaining legal hurdle to the project, which broke ground last October: a lawsuit by three Sacramentans challenging the city’s $255 million public subsidy for the arena.

Saltonstall’s lawsuit claimed the new arena at Downtown Plaza would bring massive traffic and air pollution problems, and would even prompt postgame riots by drunken basketball fans. The suit said the $477 million project represented a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The claim was rejected by a Superior Court judge and then the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

City officials had feared the environmental case could bring significant delays for the arena, which is scheduled to open October 2016.

The remaining lawsuit is expected to go to trial June 22. Three Sacramentans – Isaac Gonzalez, Julian Camacho and James Cathcart – argue that the city’s $255 million arena subsidy is a “fraud on the public.” They say the city has given the Kings a “secret subsidy” of tens of millions of dollars, which makes the true price of the public’s construction well above the stated value.

The city is financing the bulk of the subsidy by borrowing against its downtown parking operations.

The trial will be heard by a judge, not a jury, and is expected to last up to two weeks. City officials have said they’re interested in settling the case to get it off the books; they’re worried interest rates might increase before the case is resolved and they’re able to sell the parking bonds.

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