Rebuffed by a judge, opponents claiming the city of Sacramento gave the Kings a "secret subsidy" for the new downtown arena vowed Friday to continue pressing their lawsuit.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley on Friday dismissed a complaint by three citizens challenging the arena term sheet approved by the City Council last year. His reasoning: The term sheet wasn't binding. Frawley had indicated a day earlier he was going to toss out the complaint.
The citizens' lawyers, Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson, said they will amend their lawsuit, this time targeting the binding, definitive agreement the council approved Tuesday. The agreement calls for a $255 million public subsidy for the new arena at Downtown Plaza.
Anderson said the revised suit will focus on "the same essential allegations" - that the Kings benefited from backroom deals that weren't counted as part of the subsidy, including the donation of Downtown Plaza's city-owned parking garages.
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The city said the garages are worthless, in part because they need extensive repairs. In any event, city attorneys said there nothing secret about the decision to hand over the garages or other assets mentioned in the lawsuit, including the right to erect digital billboards on city property.
"Any secret deal they think might have happened" was thoroughly aired in the media and at City Council meetings, said Dawn McIntosh, a lawyer representing the city.
In February, Frawley dismissed a suit brought by citizens demanding that the subsidy question be placed on the June ballot; he said their signed petitions were legally flawed. This week, Frawley was assigned to a just-filed lawsuit challenging the arena on environmental grounds.
The bulk of the city's $255 million contributions will be cash generated by a plan to borrow against future city parking revenue. The Kings are also getting city-owned land parcels valued at $32 million. The city assigned zero value to the Downtown Plaza garages and the billboard rights.
The team is putting in $222 million, for a total project cost of $477 million.
Soluri and Anderson are also piloting a planned voter referendum seeking to overturn the results of Tuesday's council vote. City officials have said that under the election law, the financial package can't be the subject of a referendum anyway.