Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s mantra for having a new arena built downtown is that the project is “bigger than basketball.”
The mayor’s arena project won a decisive victory last year when it was announced that the building’s anchor tenant, the Sacramento Kings, would stay in town.
“The whole notion of, ‘what a difference a year makes’ is really is the fact that we won and the team is staying here, and we have to complete the efforts to build an arena downtown,” Johnson told FOX40.
Johnson, the Kings and the arena’s architect promise that the venue will be unlike any other.
Still, the plan has its opposition. A group known as Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (or STOP) has petitioned voters to put the city’s significant contribution to the arena project on the June ballot.
STOP also alleges that hidden incentives were added in order to get the deal done. In a deposition, city council member Kevin McCarty said those hidden “sweeteners” added up to millions of dollars and were not reflected properly on the arena’s term sheet.
“Sacramento’s not going to be hoodwinked. We’re going to to everything we have to do to win in courts,” Johnson said. “If we win in court, we move on. If we have to move on to some other means, we’ll do that.”
The mayor is steadfast in his belief that the arena would revitalize downtown and, in turn, the rest of the city.
“If you don’t have a strong downtown core, there’s no way that your city can reach its potential, especially being the capitol of California,” he said.