Judge affirms ruling; lawsuit against Kings arena subsidy still alive

A lawsuit challenging Sacramento’s subsidy for the new Kings arena has cleared a legal hurdle, keeping the suit alive.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley last week mostly affirmed a tentative ruling, issued two weeks earlier, that knocked down a portion of the lawsuit but said much of the case remains intact.

Frawley’s 20-page ruling doesn’t address the merits of the suit, filed last year by arena critics Isaac Gonzalez, James Cathcart and Julian Camacho. It merely says that much of the case is legally sufficient, which means it can go forward.

The judge did rule against the trio’s claim that the city has given the Kings a “secret subsidy” worth tens of millions of dollars, making the total subsidy far greater than the official $255 million. Frawley granted the three men the right to resurrect that part of the case by amending their claim.

Frawley said the trio can press on with their claims that the subsidy is “illegal or wasteful” and represents an “abuse of discretion” by the City Council. He also said they can continue to challenge the validity of the bonds the city plans to issue to finance much of the public subsidy. He did, however, rule against the portion of the suit challenging the possible hiking of parking-meter rates to help repay bond debt.

The Kings broke ground on the project last month at Downtown Plaza. The team’s share of the arena, which is due to open in October 2016, is $222 million.