Sacramento is arena addicted

Mayor Kevin Johnson’s state of the city address was fit mostly for a King

Readers sometimes ding this paper for focusing too much on the Sacramento Kings arena. Our response: You obviously didn’t attend the mayor’s State of the City event last week.

Kevin Johnson spent nearly three-fourths of his 50-minute speech shilling for the Kings. At one point—and as SN&R publisher Jeff vonKaenel points out in his column this week (see “State of the City goes pep rally” SN&R Greenlight, page 12)—he touted the arena as Sacramento’s version of the Golden Gate Bridge or Guggenheim Museum.

It didn’t end there. Inside the Memorial Auditorium last Wednesday evening, Scott Moak, the Kings in-game announcer, emceed the State of the City. His final words of the night—after all the speeches, songs, fanfare—were actually “Go Kings!” The team paid a big chunk to make the event happen, sure, so little wonder it more resembled a halftime show or high-school pep rally than a SOTU-style affair.

But even policy matters, such as food access and homelessness, were linked to the arena. The mayor said the arena’s food will be “farm to fork,” and leftovers will be divvied out to local food banks. Let’s hope he means more than nachos and corn dogs.

And, of course, there were arena falsehoods, such as when Johnson said it will have no impact on the general fund. Or that $800 million of private investment will be going to downtown—even though more than $600 million is not guaranteed.

His speech was eight pages, and more than five of them focused on the arena. We get it. The mayor and city leadership are arena addicted.

Let’s hope that, in the coming years, other issues will matter, too.