Cal Expo Arena Much Cheaper Than Failed Downtown Counterpart

The Bee's Terri Hardy has a predictably in-depth look into the history of arena discussions with Cal Expo. Not a ton of new information -- that will come over the next two days as the City Council and the Cal Expo governing board hear presentations from the NBA. But what new info there is holds quite a bit of importance.

A 2004 feasibility study commissioned by Mayor Heather Fargo looked at eight possible locations for a new arena. Cal Expo was among them. That study said a downtown arena would cost nearly $600 million. A new arena at Cal Expo? $329 million. Construction costs have of course gone up since, but that's still a chunk cheaper than the downtown option.

So why did the city and county press on with downtown as Target #1?

"The Cal Expo site currently has the most limited transit services of the study alternatives, and limited regional access due to congestion on Business 80," the study found.

Yeah. That.

But John Moag, the NBA's rep, says the league will be "a valuable ally" in getting traffic fixes in place. How? Who knows.

There is a little more detail into the NBA's plan. Hardy writes bonds issued by a new joint powers authority allowed under recently passed SB 282 will make up a large part of the funding, but Moag also has a big-time commercial developer in the pipeline to help fund Cal Expo improvements and an arena in exchange for development rights on part of the vacant land. (This would help solve the whole 'no restaurants in walking distance' thing.)

Next steps: the City Council will be briefed by Moag Thursday night, and the Cal Expo board will vote to open negotiations Friday morning.

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