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NBA Wants to Put Arena at Cal Expo

The Cal Expo hammer has finally dropped, after months of unsubstantiated rumors. Well, a hammer in the form of anonymous sources talking to The Sacramento Bee's Mary Lyne Vellinga, anyway.

The NBA has settled on Cal Expo as the preferred location for a new Kings arena, according to sources familiar with the league's behind-the-scenes effort to build the team a new home in Sacramento.

Despite its location on one of Sacramento's worst freeway bottlenecks, Cal Expo appeals to the NBA because it offers a ready supply of vacant land and a name already recognized as an entertainment destination, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the league hasn't yet unveiled its proposal.

Business 80 would need to be virtually rebuilt in that stretch if you put the arena at Cal Expo. A serious question will be how that cost compares to the cost of infrastructure needed for a downtown entertainment center.

Vellinga talks about Cal Expo's status and needs, and an interesting Senate bill which figures heavily in this whole thing. SB 282, sponsored by Sacramento Republican Sen. Dave Cox, would allow the leasing of Cal Expo land to private developers... something which could clearly help defray costs for an arena there. And as far as I can tell, it's a way to escape some portion of public/Maloof funding -- Cal Expo sells bonds (with authorization from the joint powers authority, which I'm assuming would include state, county, city, and Cal Expo representatives) to fund improvements at the location, which are then used to facilitate the building of an arena (and associated sundries). Every dollar of investor money spent on fixing Cal Expo is a dollar saved by us and the Maloofs.

Think about it. The Maloofs wouldn't have owned the downtown arena -- they were the (cash-minting) operators under that scenario. All events, parking, concessions, retail... the Maloofs made money on that and paid a (rather modest) payment to the city and county for it. Fast forward to Cal Expo: the state owns and would continue to own the property, the Maloofs become the operators of the new arena and take in money from concessions, all events at the arena, retail associated with the arena. There's just one problem; a problem which was reportedly the reason the downtown effort imploded so spectacularly.

Parking. That's how Cal Expo makes the bread. That's an important revenue source for the Maloofs. Plenty of parking already exists -- and it wouldn't likely sit on land leased to the Maloofs. Sticking point, anyone?

('Cal Expo' [top] by [LiANNA]; 'Parking Lot'  by prettywar-stl.)