Let public in on arena deal

Mayor Kevin Johnson’s fast-break moves to save the Sacramento Kings might work—but city leaders still must slow down and keep the public in the loop.

Last week, at the mayor’s reinvented State of the City event, he revealed the two investors, Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle, who aim to bid for the Kings and also develop a new arena at the Downtown Plaza site. City council also approved last week a $240,000 expenditure on professional and legal services to assist the city manager with arena negotiations.

City Manager John Shirey has said he wants to bring an arena term sheet to council as early as March 26. This will leave little time for public input.

What’s more, the mayor also hinted during his address, billionaire Burkle wants to develop additional downtown blocks near the proposed new arena. A city subsidy upward of $255 million, but possibly more, is on the table as part of these negotiations.

Yes, we realize time is of the essence if the city wants a shot at keeping the Kings. But the mayor and the city manager should allow the public more than ample time to vet and offer feedback on any downtown arena deal and subsidy.

A rushed, secretive deal might save the Kings—but, ultimately, could be bad for Sacramento.