Marcos Bretón

Marcos Breton: Arena plan could help pull Sacramento out of the doldrums

Do you know why Sacramento had to lay off 42 cops?

Because the city's tax revenue has dropped to 2005 levels. Sales tax, property tax, utility tax – it's the money that runs the city.

As we all know, that money is in terribly short supply.

At the same time, the Sacramento Kings came within an eyelash of leaving town last April until Mayor Kevin Johnson talked the NBA into giving the city a year to approve a new arena to save the team.

Arena construction also would jump-start development in the abandoned downtown railyard, a project that local leaders hope will transform Sacramento's downtown.

The facility could trigger other investment and be a welcome shot in the arm for a community not building much besides hospitals.

But the question is: Isn't Sacramento so bad off financially that we have to let the Kings go and forget about building a new arena and developing the railyard anytime soon?

That seems to be the feeling of some residents, particularly older ones who view sports teams and talk of arenas with disdain.

It's a feeling that is obviously making some Sacramento politicians very nervous.

And since no other city or town in the region will pitch in on the arena in a meaningful way, it's on Sacramento's politicians to put an arena financing plan in place.

My fellow citizens, Sacramento must make the effort to get this arena deal done. Dropping it now or saying Sacramento can't afford it is simply not an option.

You say you're upset over talk of Sacramento spending up to $550,000 on consultants to study an arena plan? You think it's money Sacramento should spend on cops?

OK. Putting aside that were talking about using parking funds and money for capital improvements, let's say you spend it on cops.

How do you keep those cops once the money is spent? You don't.

You lay them off again unless you've found a way to increase city tax revenue. You don't keep cops around with one-time money that is gone once it's spent.

The same goes for homeless programs, city parks and pools.

With the arena, you have the interest of AEG, one of the biggest arena and stadium operators in the world. If they invest $100 million in the railyard, it could be the catalyst to attract more businesses and a more varied and sustainable local tax base.

Do you have a better idea to attract investment? I don't hear any ideas from the we-can't-afford-it crowd.

All you hear from them is NO, the favorite word of Sacramento naysayers.

But right now, Sacramento can't afford to say no to exploring possibilities that could end the rut this community is in.