Before Sacramento spends hundreds of millions of dollars to finance a Kings arena, the public should vote on the plan

The downtown-arena story has been filled with twists and turns, deceptions and betrayals, secret deals and awkward revelations almost since the Kings ownership first began demanding a new home for the team more than a decade ago. Through it all, we’ve remained convinced of one thing:

Before the city spends hundreds of millions of dollars to finance an arena, the public should vote on the plan.

That has not changed in the wake of revelations that Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen, who earlier this year failed in a bid to buy the Kings and move them to his hometown, contributed money to an effort to put the current arena plan on the 2014 ballot. Arena supporters have been taking a victory lap, certain that voters will now be unwilling to sign petitions to support the referendum. Yet Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork, the group behind the ballot measure, maintains that it has always been a grassroots effort, and has vowed to press on. It did not accept any money from Hansen, and we see no reason it shouldn’t continue its effort.

Hansen had no right to be involved in the Sacramento arena issue. But you do.

The stakes are too high—at least $258 million in public money, probably more; a 50-year lease on city parking facilities; and yes, the future of the Kings—to move forward without a clear community consensus. We urge readers to continue to support the effort to put the arena issue to a public vote.