Natomas Arena Site Not Dead in the Water

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A privately-funded arena plan involving Kings minority owner John Kehriotis and a group of private investors is perking up ears inside Sacramento City Hall.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in this city that would object to a plan that doesn’t include any public money, and maximizes an existing resource,” said Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby in a conversation with FOX40 before Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

The existing resource Ahsby referred to is Sleep Train Arena, which is in her council district.  As FOX40 first reported Monday night, the Kehriotis plan would keep the Kings in Sacramento, and it is not site-specific, which means the existing arena location would be considered.

Ashby has supported Mayor Kevin Johnson’s efforts to help put together a downtown arena plan.  But she is also open-minded about a new arena at the existing Natomas site.

“I have always said my interest is in keeping something that is an economic engine equal to or greater than the arena,” she said.  “So if we can have the arena out there and rebuild it that’s great.”

Danielle Marshall, president of the Natomas Chamber of Commerce, was enthused to learn that the Natomas site might be back in play. 

“As a chamber president, I am excited about anything that’s going to revitalize and give to the economic portion of Natomas, which is amazing,” Marshall told FOX40.  “I would hate to see that our community would be forgotten.”

Both Marshall and the vice mayor tout the benefits of Natomas as an arena location: The freeway access, the parking, the hotels and restaurants that cater to the population attending events at the arena.

“It’s just that investors in the past, including the NBA, have not been interested in a Natomas site,” said Ashby.

Adding intrigue to the Natomas possibilities, there are 100 acres of land around Sleep Train Arena that are ripe for additional development once a building moratorium is lifted.  That moratorium is in place until flood control improvements are made on nearby levees.  According to Ashby, that process is moving along steadily, though there is no specific estimate for completion at this time.

The fact that the Kehriotis plan would be privately funded sits well with some Sacramento residents opposed to other arena plans that the city has considered.  As resident Bob Anderson put it before the Tuesday council meeting, “When I hear on the news, ‘Oh the Kings, the Kings,’ and then ‘Oh and by way, we’re closing 25 schools,’ where are our priorities?”

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