Kings’ ransom

Before the city of Sacramento spends one more dime of our tax dollars on buying a downtown basketball arena for millionaires, we would like to broaden the discussion.

It seems the arena idea is already heading down the Union Pacific tracks before the passengers know where it is going. All of a sudden, $50,000 of our dollars is paid to study an idea that few citizens have been consulted on. And the total tax bill could easily climb to $350 million. We would like to put the brakes on, and offer up another idea: The Sacramento Center for the Arts.

Mayor Fargo has been a strong supporter of the arts, knowing it builds better, more livable communities, so we encourage her and the council to keep the Kings at ARCO and get us an arts center on UP’s property for less than half the cost of an arena.

We envision the arts center to be the focal point of the acreage north of the depot, surrounded by low- and middle-income housing, retail and a park. The center would house both a museum of modern art and a performance hall.

Sacramento deserves another museum in the cultural environment and modern and pop art would bring some excitement. It could have an educational component to foster involvement with school children. We also see a need for a new music/theater hall with state of the art acoustics, lighting and clean sight lines. A 1500 to 2500 seat hall would also draw the touring music acts that sometimes skip downtown Sacramento because clubs are too small and the other halls are too big.

But let’s be realistic, the arts is a hard sell compared to the popularity of the Kings. When Mayor Fargo was a city councilperson, she voted against a bailout of the Kings and the $73 million loan, but that was before she hooked up with a political consultant—Richie Ross, who not only helped her get elected but also works for (guess who?) the Kings. Hmmm. So this will take political courage on her part.

Or will it?

We’ve been told that ARCO is old by “NBA standards.” Well, not by ours. Thirteen years is nothing for a building and we can’t see the Kings ticket sales dropping any too soon. And what of this $73 million loan? If the city builds a new downtown arena, how will the owners of the old building compete with a new arena nearby? The answer: they won’t and we’d have to write off the loan and pay $350 million for the new arena. Corporate welfare is not popular with the voters.

So the answer is clear: Keep the Kings at ARCO and use tax dollars to build us an arts jewel that will truly revitalize a downtown that needs to take the next step up in class.