Arena Approved: Kings to Stay in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO – One week after city of Sacramento officials and the owners of the Sacramento Kings agreed to finance a new entertainment and sports complex in the downtown railyards, the City Council voted 7-2 in favor of non-binding funding model to move the project forward.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and council members Steve Cohn, Angelique Ashby, Rob Fong, Darrell Fong, Jay Schenirer and Bonnie Pannell voted for the plan. Kevin McCarty and Sandy Sheedy opposed the vote.

“All I have to say is that this is a great day for Sacramento,” said Mayor Johnson. “Long live Sacramento and long live the Kings.”

The scene at City Hall was unlike any other meeting of the past. With the chants of “Sac-ra-men-to” bouncing off the walls, it was a record turnout filled with members of the Sacramento community, elected officials, and various local and national media outlets.

“That shows the magnitude of this issue,” Johnson said before public comments.

Many people voiced their opposition in the building the arena downtown. Their concerns were traffic congestion, recurring a debt, the cost of the project, other location possibilities, etc. About 19 people spoke individually within 40 minutes.

Supporters of the arena demands were basically simple: build it.

Councilwoman Pannell said the Council needed to weigh the decision carefully.

“I know there are risks. But we have to invest in the future. I just don’t want the future generation to pay for our mistakes,” she said.

Two hours into the historic meeting, Sacramento Kings rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas walked into the Council chambers and was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation.

The Maloofs, owners of the Kings, issued the following statement regarding the vote.

“Tonight’s vote was an important next step in the process to construct a new entertainment and sports complex in Sacramento. On behalf of our entire family and the Kings organization, we want to thank everyone who has helped move this forward, especially the NBA, City Council, Mayor Kevin Johnson, the Think Big Sacramento Committee, and most importantly, our dedicated employees and loyal fans. We’re all excited.”
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By Antonio Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer