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Arena Deal Could Be Effected By City Council Races

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The City of Sacramento is working on the details of a new arena under the non-binding agreement the City Council approved last week. 

Assistant City Manager John Dangberg says the city will be officially bound sometime in February of next year if the council signs off on the Environmental Impact report.

DANGBERG: "That's when they commit and that's just a function of California law.  They can't commit themselves to the project until they have completed their environmental studies."

Dangberg and other city staff will go before the council at least a dozen times before then for votes on things like streets, sewers, parking and the integration of the mass transit hub called the Intermodal.

DANGBERG:  "That's a major policy issue where the council's going to want to weigh in and we expect to hear from them and we'll make changes to the plan according on their input."    

But, the input of the council could change depending on its makeup after the new members take office late in the year.  There are four city council seats -including the mayor's- that could change hands this year.  In order for arena opponents to derail the project, they would have to win four races …and hope for a change of heart by the council's potential swing vote, Darrell Fong.

FONG: "I'm gonna poke a holes in this and I'm always gonna remain somewhat skeptical, but I'm hopeful we can get there."

A political reversal of fortunes is something that is not likely according to the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Kunal Merchant.  He says the arena project has a lot of momentum, and the prospect of more than 4,000 new jobs will continue that.

MERCHANT:  "For all intents and purposes we're there.  I mean, politically we're there.  And, from all parties, we are going to be very quickly getting into the real work of building this thing and getting the people into the jobs to build it. That's going to happen in a matter of weeks."

As for the other parties who have signed the non-binding agreement -the Kings' owners, the Maloofs and expected arena operator, Anschutz Entertainment Group-  they could be back before the City Council in the first week of  April to be bound a little.  They will say how they are going to contribute to the pre-development costs over the next year.
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