Pro-arena forces turn in another 1,500 petition withdrawals

Supporters of a new NBA arena in downtown Sacramento say another 1,500 voters are seeking to withdraw their signatures from petitions that would force a public vote on the proposed $258 million arena subsidy.

Joshua Wood of, a pro-arena group, said the withdrawal forms were submitted Thursday to the City Clerk’s office. If the withdrawals are valid, that would bring the total number of recissions to 3,100.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for anti-subsidy group STOP – Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork – said the group now has gathered more than 22,000 signatures – the minimum needed to put the proposed subsidy on next June’s ballot.

But STOP spokesman John Hyde acknowledged that his group doesn’t yet know how many of the 22,000 signatures are valid.

Hyde downplayed the impact of the voter withdrawals being submitted by DowntownArena, saying many of those forms could have been submitted by people who never signed STOP’s petitions in the first place. “We really have no idea who those people are,” Hyde said.

Wood, though, called the volume of withdrawals “unprecedented” and said it’s “due largely to STOP’s association with Chris Hansen.” Hansen is the hedge fund manager who tried to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle earlier this year; he was later revealed as the major contributor to STOP’s petition-gathering effort.

Officials with STOP say they didn’t learn until recently of Hansen’s financial support, which was funneled through an Orange County political consultant. Hansen was fined $50,000 last month for violating state campaign finance-disclosure laws.

The City Council tentatively approved the arena subsidy in March, as the city was marshaling its forces to keep the Kings from leaving. Much of the funding would come from borrowing against future city parking revenue. The total cost of the arena, which would open in 2016 at Downtown Plaza, would be $448 million.

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