Sacramento arena deal: The final countdown

Flush with a court victory giving the city of Sacramento full control of its planned downtown arena site, officials say they plan to unveil key details of the arena deal in the next few weeks, culminating in a formal City Council vote on the plan May 13.

City officials said they were delighted by an appellate court rejection Thursday of an effort by the owners of the former men’s Macy’s store building to regain control of the property.

“It is a huge deal,” Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said of the ruling. “We’re very pleased.”

The decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal lifts a legal cloud over the building, which has been vacant since Macy’s relocated its men’s department to its main Downtown Plaza location last fall, and clears the way for the city and the Sacramento Kings to launch what has been described as the biggest downtown development project in a generation.

Dangberg said the city and the Kings have been in negotiations and have agreed on major points of a private-public partnership to build the 17,000-plus seat, $448 million arena at the east end of Downtown Plaza.

City representatives, the Kings and their attorneys and consultants continue to work through final deal details, Dangberg said. That deal will replace the conceptual “term sheet” deal the City Council approved a year ago. Like the term sheet, it will obligate the city to provide as much as $258 million in cash and real estate into the arena financing program.

“A lot has been accomplished over the last year,” Dangberg said. “We’re negotiating the final wrap-ups.”

Dangberg said the city will publish the deal documents on the city website two weeks before the council’s May 13 vote. That will include final environmental review documents, the project’s planning documents, the series of agreements between the city and the Kings, and the city’s financing plan for its share of the arena costs.

Officials listed several key upcoming dates:

On April 10, staffers will ask the city Planning and Design Commission to finish its review of the arena site plans and designs, and issue recommendations to the City Council. The planning commission is also expected to make a recommendation on zoning changes to allow the Kings to develop digital signboards at several freeway sites around the city.

On April 22, the city’s arena development team will provide the City Council with an overview of the final terms of the deal and an overview of the city’s financing plan for its portion of the arena costs.

On May 13, the council is scheduled to vote on the arena deal. That vote will include approval of the environmental review and entitlements allowing the Kings to build the arena and an estimated 1.5 million square feet of offices, housing, retail and potentially a hotel on adjacent blocks.

The Kings are expected to begin prep work at the site soon after the May 13 vote. Demolition is expected as early as June. The city will sell bonds to finance most of its investment in the arena, but that action will take place no sooner than 60 days after the council vote, Dangberg said.

The arena is scheduled to open in 2016. If the completion date slips beyond 2017, the NBA has the right to buy the Kings and move them out of town. That’s part of an agreement the team’s new owners made with the league when NBA owners blocked an effort by the prior owners, the Maloofs, to sell the Kings to a group from Seattle.

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