For weeks, Sacramentans have wondered if the Kings would dominate Mayor Kevin Johnson’s sixth state of the city address.
Now they have their answer – yes.
Johnson gave that shout out to Vivek Ranadive, the new owner of Sacramento’s NBA franchise, after briefly mentioning new police hires and an end to fire department brown outs.
With that nod to the Kings ownership, Johnson quickly focused on the arena planned for downtown Sacramento.
He touted the $11 billion of economic activity he says it promises over the next 35 years – much of that to come through 4,000 arena-related jobs.
Johnson detailed an apprenticeship program tied to arena construction that would target veterans or the chronically underemployed, putting them on track toward entering the middle class.
While promising to provide that window into a middle class life. Mayor Johnson also promised the arena will literally feed people in other ways – with leftover food from vendors given to food banks after games.
He tried to quiet critics challenging the city’s $258 million subsidy for the arena project in court by saying that for every one dollar the city puts in, it will be leveraging six in economic development.
Showing off a new image of how that economic engine will look from the inside, the mayor went on the defensive about the lawsuit alleging city assets were secretly given to Kings investors.
“We’re a model of transparency. No one in the city, no body else is talking about sweeteners,” he said.
Ranadive says there’ll be no placating groups trying to stop Sacramento’s progress.
“From my perspective, this project is a go. It was agreed on and we’re moving forward. We’re going to make Sacramento one of the premier cities on the planet,” he said.
Hammering on the night’s ‘Uniquely Sacramento’ theme, Johnson closed out his state of the city address saying that the city is the only one with the talent, the resources and the weather to build this particular arena.
Johnson’s promised the NBA the arena will be open in 2016.