Council to vote on Sacramento Kings arena plan later tonight

The crowd at City Hall chambers during last year's arena vote. (Photo: Steven Chea)

Later this evening, nine local representatives will decide the fate of the Sacramento Kings when they vote on a proposed plan to build a new entertainment and sports center at the Downtown Plaza.

The arena term sheet, which was agreed to four days ago between city officials and a private investor group planning to buy the Kings, needs a minimum of five votes to pass.

“I think we have every intention of seizing the moment, sending a very strong resounding statement to the NBA,” Mayor Kevin Johnson said of tonight’s vote in a news conference at city hall yesterday afternoon. “That we’re open for business, we took care of our business, we did what we said we were gonna do and now, let’s get onto the meeting on April 3rd.”

The vote comes on the heels of more major investors stepping forward to keep the Kings in Sacramento.  Last night, Vivek Ranadivé, the leader of one local group planning to buy the team, revealed to News 10 and the Sacramento Bee that the Jacobs family of tech giant Qualcomm, which reported $19 billion in earnings last year, has joined the effort.

Members of council met Monday morning with Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov, two other major investors in the project. Johnson added that city manager John Shirey has actively kept council updated on the term sheet’s progress.

However, one councilmember feels the process is moving at rapid pace. As of yesterday evening, Councilman Steve Hansen was not yet comfortable with the idea of voting on the term sheet later today. Hansen represents District 4, which includes the downtown area and site of the proposed entertainment and sports center project.

“I think this is one of those conscience votes,” Hansen said when asked to gauge how other members of council are feeling about tonight’s vote. “Each councilmember needs to vote with their conscience and it’s going to be a difficult vote for a lot of people. I think there’s a lot of reasons to be positive about it. But, we have real questions that need to be answered.”

Hansen’s concerns stem from the short timeframe the public has had to review the term sheet. The plan was finalized and released just four days ago.

Last year’s plan to build a new arena in the railyards passed by a 7-2 margin. The council has made minor changes since then with Rob Fong, a yes vote last year, and Sandy Sheedy, a no vote, both leaving office after their terms concluded in 2012.

Sheedy’s District 2 is now represented by Allen Warren, who is chair of the ad hoc committee addressing the Kings/arena issue, while Hansen has taken Fong’s place at District 4.

Despite Hansen’s concerns, the mayor is still hopeful about this evening’s vote.

“Our goal ultimately on Tuesday is to get a 9-0 vote,” Johnson said. “Whether that’s realistic or not, I don’t know. But that’s our goal and that’s what we’re going to aspire to do.”

Additional notes

Councilman Jay Schenirer will not be in Sacramento for tonight’s vote. He is on a trip to Morocco that was pre-planned far in advance of this evening’s council meeting. However, he will be joining council by phone to cast his vote.

How last year’s vote played out

  • Kevin Johnson: Yes
  • Angelique Ashby: Yes
  • Rob Fong: Yes *
  • Steve Cohn: Yes
  • Sandy Sheedy: No *
  • Jay Schenirer: Yes
  • Kevin McCarty: No
  • Darrell Fong: Yes
  • Bonnie Pannell: Yes

* No longer a member of council.

WATCH: City Council passes 2012 arena plan

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