In Sacramento, the city could not get the local NBA owners to commit to a 30-year lease on an arena primarily funded by the public. The public would have contributed $255 million of the $400 million needed. The city found a willing partner in arena operator AEG, who would put up $70 million. The city worked with the NBA itself to come up with financing for the owners. The city got elected officials' approval and buy-in from the most powerful member of the state Legislature. But the owners would not commit.
In the Bay Area, the local NBA owners will announce Tuesday that they plan to build a new NBA arena and entertainment complex on the Embarcadero near Pier 32. It will be privately financed, though there will surely be cooperation from the public sector. The new Golden State Warriors' ownership group paid a record $450 million for the team, and will now build an arena that will in all likelihood push the $500 million level.
San Francisco is a much, much stronger market than Sacramento in every way: population, corporate sponsorship, TV audience, wealthy people who like to be seen count. But the poles are so disparate, so incredible in their contrast that it cannot be ignored.
One set of owners has enough money to invest in their club and their market. Ninety minutes away, the other can't even afford to spend someone else's money. It's as simple as that.