Arena agreement not finalized; City Council vote postponed

The Sacramento City Council’s historic vote on the new downtown arena for the Kings won’t take place May 13, after all.

Unable to complete the fine points of the development agreement in time, Sacramento officials Saturday postponed indefinitely the vote on the Downtown Plaza project and the city’s proposed $255 million subsidy.

Nonetheless, officials said they remained confident the deal is moving forward, the delay will be brief and the project’s October 2016 scheduled opening isn’t in peril.

“The definitive agreements are in the last stages of completion and will be finalized soon,” the city said in its announcement.

Because it involves a city contract of more than $1 million, the city staff had to complete and make public the arena agreement with the Kings by Saturday evening – 10 days in advance – in order to put the issue on the May 13 council agenda.

Once the council votes, the Kings have said they could start preliminary demolition work on Downtown Plaza the next day.

City officials and the Kings had hoped to finalize the deal on Thursday, but officials on both sides said nailing down the final details was proving elusive. The agreement consists of 12 separate development documents.

“There are a lot of documents, they’re comprehensive documents, they all have to work together,” said Assistant City Manager John Dangberg. “It’s just going to take a little more time.”

Despite the delays, Dangberg said he is “not at all” worried about completing the agreement soon.

Kings President Chris Granger couldn’t be reached for comment, but a team executive referred a reporter to Granger’s statement last week that the deal is “99.9 percent done.”

The essentials of the agreement were made public two weeks ago. The Kings will contribute $222 million and the city $255 million, for a total project of $477 million.

Once the eastern portion of Downtown Plaza is torn down, the Kings hope to break ground on the arena later this summer, with the building opening in October 2016.

The building must open in time for the 2017-18 basketball season. If not, the NBA has the right to buy the Kings and move them out of town, under an agreement made last year with Vivek Ranadive and the rest of the team’s new owners. The deadline was a condition of the NBA’s decision to block the previous owners’ attempt to sell the Kings to investors in Seattle.

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