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Arena Panel Backs Railyards Site, Complex Land Swap

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, March 11, 2010
From the day the mayor’s task force first released details of the seven proposals it examined, the one from Sacramento developers Gerry Kamilos and David Taylor stood out. It had the backing of the Kings and the NBA. And it was by far the most complex.

It would move the state fair from Cal Expo to the current Arco Arena site in Natomas; develop the valuable Cal Expo property; and use those profits to help finance an arena at the Railyards. Task force co-chair Chris Lehane says the proposal could bring a huge economic boost to the region.
Lehane: “The Kamilos project, by using these three land swaps, is able to finance money from the private sector off of those land swaps, cause they’ll develop those for the private sector and generate money from it. And from that, they’re able to pay for the facility, which really minimizes and limits the actual cost from a taxpayer perspective.”
The task force said two other proposals offer solid alternatives: another one for the Railyards, from the property’s developer, and one at the K Street Mall downtown. But backers of a bid to build the arena in Natomas next door to the current Arco Arena say the task force didn’t give them a fair shake. Natomas chamber of commerce board member Marni Leger says the panel and city officials have favored downtown from the start.
Leger: “We think it was very short-sighted of the committee not to at least try to move the Natomas proposal forward with the other three. And we hope the city council will take it upon its own initiative to examine the Natomas proposal.”
At least one council member wants to do that. But others, and Mayor Johnson, praised the recommendation and spoke of moving forward with a sense of urgency. Councilman Kevin McCarty reminded the packed chambers of several failed attempts in the past few years.
McCarty: “Dreaming and scheming is – you know, we’ve done that for a decade now. And time’s not on our side here. And so we need to direct staff to focus on the one that has the best chance of success.”
That could happen as soon as Tuesday night’s council meeting, when city staff will offer their thoughts on the task force’s report and recommendations. The council might ask officials to work on an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Kamilos team, or to move forward with more than one proposal.
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