Sacramento Kings arena deal is high-drama, slow motion

John Dangberg.

John Dangberg.

It was not—despite what you might have picked up from some breathless Sacramento Bee columnists—a do-or-die moment for a new Sacramento Kings arena. It wasn’t make or break. It wasn’t even put up or shut up.

It was just one more in a seemingly endless series of incremental baby steps. The Sacramento City Council was expected on Tuesday night (after press time) to approve a list of 10 “most qualified” companies bidding to take over the city’s public-parking system. The lucky company would get the city’s parking revenue for the next 20, 30, maybe 50 years, in exchange for a large upfront payment to help build an arena.

The payment could be as large as $200 million, depending on the conditions of the parking deal. Right now, the city gets about $9 million in revenue from its parking operations every year.

Tuesday’s vote marked the end of the city’s request for qualifications from bidders and a pivot to the much more exciting request for proposals phase.

OK, so not “crunch time,” exactly. But there is a more significant council meeting coming up on February 28.

That’s when Assistant City Manager John Dangberg is expected to present the council the much-anticipated “term sheet” of an arena deal. The term sheet is supposed to outline just how much money the city, the team owners and the would-be arena operators would each contribute to get the arena built.

That’s also when Dangberg will explain how the general fund will be paid back for the $9 million in parking revenue that would be given up as part of any parking-privatization deal. Dangberg has said in the past that the money would likely be paid by ticket surcharges or by new sales and property taxes generated by development of the arena.

February 28 is also when Dangberg is expected to lay out a road map for the aforementioned RFP process, which is expected to go into the summer and cost the city more than $1 million.

Even if the council signs off on the term sheet, a new arena faces many more obstacles. A full environmental review wouldn’t be done for another year.

“This is a process,” Dangberg said. “You have to continue to delve deeper and prove out the various elements. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made by the council over the next two-and-a-half years.”

As previously predicted by SN&R, the city council (and the public) likely won’t get a glimpse of the term sheet until the Thursday or Friday before the following Tuesday’s vote on whether to accept the deal. That’s about four days—including the weekend—to review and make a decision. No pressure. (Cosmo Garvin)