City Beat

Sacramento in talks to buy planned Sports Basement site

Bay Area retailer Sports Basement has revived its interest in opening a downtown Sacramento store just as city officials are attempting to buy a building the company eyed as recently as last year.

The city is in negotiations to purchase a property at 730 I St. from Sacramento County, city officials said Tuesday. The county has owned the 70,000-square-foot building since 1996 and reached a deal in 2011 to sell the property to Sports Basement.

That deal fell through last year.

Ariel Parrish, a Sports Basement spokeswoman, would not say which property the company is interested in purchasing. However, she said, “Sports Basement is actively pursuing options to buy a building in the downtown corridor and open a store in 2015.”

Amy Williams, a city spokeswoman, would not specifically discuss the city’s plans for 730 I St. or whether the city plans to sell the building to Sports Basement if the deal with the county is finalized.

“At this point, the city is looking to acquire the property because it sits at a strategic location downtown,” Williams said. “With the development of the new entertainment and sports center, this site has lots of potential for future economic development activities.”

County officials would not comment on the negotiations. The Board of Supervisors was scheduled to receive an update Tuesday on the county’s negotiations with the city over the building. That update was scheduled for a closed session, which is not open to the public.

Sports Basement had agreed to buy the former Bank of America building from the county in 2011 for $4.5 million. The company had told city officials it planned to make $5.5 million in renovations to the three-story building.

Downtown business interests and city officials have been eager for years to lure the company to the site; the store would fill a vacant property at the center of downtown and contribute an estimated $800,000 a year in sales tax revenue.

“We have absolutely looked at Sports Basement for the last couple of years as being an incredible opportunity and a traffic driver for us downtown,” said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “They will be a regional destination.”

The building on I Street was most recently used as a temporary office for city of Sacramento employees.

Sports Basement, compared by many to sports retailer REI, has five stores, all in the Bay Area. It is planning to open a sixth store later this year in Berkeley.

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