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NBA proposes Sacramento arena deal

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The ongoing drama over a new Sacramento arena was kicked up a notch Thursday when a consortium of investors and local developers, together with the NBA, proposed a complex real estate deal involving the Railyards, Cal Expo and Arco Arena. Whether or not that deal eclipses all the other proposals on the table remains to be seen.

But regardless of which arena proposal ultimately becomes reality, it will be a game-changer for Sacramento.

Just how much depends on which of seven proposals the city and the Sacramento Kings’ owners agree on. The Maloof/NBA proposal involves real estate deals that would lead to Cal Expo being sold to private developers for a mixed-use neighborhood, Arco Arena and adjacent land being transformed into the new state fairgrounds, and a sports arena being built on donated city land adjacent to the train station.

The backers of all seven proposals made brief pitches to more than 120 people at a sometimes raucous, fairly informal open house held Thursday night in the lobby of City Hall. But the biggest surprise came after the event organized by Mayor Kevin Johnson’s arena task force, when developers and investors behind a complex real estate proposal held a separate press conference at the Citizen Hotel.

Representing the National Basketball Association at the second press conference, John Moag, who heads the sports investment banking company Moag & Co., outlined a complicated plan spearheaded by developer Gerry Kamilos.

"I think we can all agree we have a building that needs to be replaced. The real question has always been, ‘How?’ " Moag said. "We came with the assumption we were not going to raise new taxes. That made for a very difficult and complicated scenario."

The NBA has become a partner to negotiate for the project on behalf of the Maloofs, which own the Sacramento Kings franchise and its current home, Arco Arena. The city owns land around the arena. The Maloofs did not attend the press conference.

Kamilos, developer David Taylor and two investment companies would form a private consortium that proposes building a 19,000-seat sports and entertainment arena adjacent to the historic train depot on land donated by the city of Sacramento. That project would be financed in part by the group buying Cal Expo and developing a mixed-use, master-planned neighborhood there. The group also proposes the city and the Maloofs turn Arco Arena and the adjacent land over to the state for the new fairgrounds, Moag said.

The Maloofs would contribute $300 million to the new arena, he said. However, the proposal also calls for retiring a $68.5 million city loan to the Maloofs. The Kings would sign a 30-year lease. The private group would own and operate the new sports and entertainment arena for 30 years, then turn it over to the city. 

Proponents of other projects proposed building at a variety of locations, from the same city-owned railyards land to the east end of Downtown Plaza, the Sacramento River waterfront in the Docks Area and Arco Arena. Some proposed funding mechanisms, but not all.

Thomas Enterprises, which is developing the former railyards, proposes building a sports and entertainment center in the same city-owned railyards location as the third phase of the current regional transportation center project. Under that proposal, the historic train depot would serve as the lobby and ticketing center for the arena, as well as the future transportation center. A passenger concourse would wrap around the side of the arena to the relocated tracks and a multi-level, shared parking garage would be built.

A performing arts center is proposed for a new fourth phase. The proposal would decrease the cost of both the transportation center and the arena and allow the use of transportation funding not available to other projects, Thomas Enterprises Vice President Suheil Totah said.

"It will help establish the historic depot as the Grand Central Station of the West," he said at City Hall. "This event center is the next logical step to the redevelopment of the railyards and the revitalization of Downtown Sacramento."

Graphic provided by Thomas Enterprises.


Other proposals include:

— Natomas Entertainment Sports Center Partners, led by Jeff Baize of Brookhurst Corp., proposes building a new entertainment complex on 100 acres of city-owned land adjacent to Arco Arena. The complex would include a mixed-use neighborhood emphasizing green technology and re-purposing Arco Arena as a power generation facility. "That site has been working from a traffic and infrastructure capacity," he said.

— Matt Haines of M & M Group and owner of 33rd Street Bistro presented a plan developed more than a decade ago for then-Mayor Joe Serna. Haines proposes building a sports and entertainment center on the waterfront in the future Docks Area. A location near Miller Park would bring needed development to the riverfront and nearby Capitol Mall, and encourage the use of Broadway and R Street as access routes, he said. "Our river will come alive like never before," he said. He proposes financing the project through equity seat rights, or selling individual seats in the center, which Haines said has raised $200 million for UC Berkeley.

— Ali Mackani, who owns Lounge on 20, and a group called CORE propose redeveloping the east end of Westfield Downtown Plaza into a retail and entertainment district, with two floors of retail and an outdoor public park on the third floor. "Our downtown lacks energy," Mackani said. "We don’t have a destination. We need to make sure our core is strong. We have to do a better job in creating an attraction for everyone."

— Rick Tripp of Tripp Development also sees the east end of Downtown Plaza as the best location. This proposal focused on financing, rather than design. Tripp proposed private financing and no requirement for publicly owned real estate — or compensating taxpayers for real estate at market rate, he said.

— Doug Tatara proposes building an entertainment complex including a sports and entertainment arena, a California theme park and a monorail connecting Cal Expo to downtown. He proposes raising money for the arena through the recruitment of 25 corporate sponsors who would have advertising contracts with the arena.

The mayor’s task force will visit proposed locations on Feb. 18 and conduct a review of the proposals with each group on March 4. The task force will make recommendations to the mayor on March 11.

Railyards photo by Eric Whalen. 




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