After Sharp Questions, Cal Expo Board Extends Arena Talks
NBA consultants sketch
Members of the board that runs the state fair voted unanimously Friday to extend talks with NBA representatives for a new basketball arena at Cal Expo. But they asked lots of tough questions too.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Cal Expo Board Members: “Why don’t you guys come back with and spell it out so we all understand it how this thing’s gonna be financed?”
“Why aren’t the owners of the Kings involved in this process now?”
“When the arena’s done, who gets the gate? (The ticket revenue?) Yeah.”
It was a far more skeptical tone than last month’s meeting, when the NBA first unveiled the project.
The goal is to renovate the state fairgrounds at Cal Expo and build a new arena for the Sacramento Kings. Most of the project would be paid for by a 200-acre development, which would include housing, retail, hotel and office space. The Cal Expo board voted last month to begin searching for a developer. But several skeptical members took a step back Friday. They wanted details – numbers, facts and especially safe-guards to make sure the state fair doesn’t get hurt.
Moag: We’re in the process of kinda doing a sales job here.”
That’s John Moag. He represents both the NBA and the Maloof Brothers, who own the kings. And while board members are wary of seeking out a developer without first approving the initial plan for the property, Moag points out the other side of the coin: No developer will sign on without having its own say.
Moag: “We’re trying to go out and raise money to build you guys a new fairgrounds here and us kind of tag along with a Maloof contribution in getting an arena. To do that, we’ve gotta sell developers that there’s something really of value here.”
General Manager Norb Bartosik is Cal Expo’s point person in negotiations with the NBA. He says the board’s questions will gradually get answered as the project moves forward – especially as the hunt for a developer picks up.
Bartosik: “If they’re skeptical about what they’ve seen, it’s because they don’t understand the full concept of what we’re trying to develop and how we’re gonna go about doing it.”
And Bartosik says it’s up to his staff – and the NBA – to bring the board along step-by-step. That will start with the plan to renovate the state fairgrounds, which the board will get a look at next month.