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NBA Requests Formal Discussions With Cal Expo

As the rumors went national Wednesday, the NBA went ahead and made them official, as The Bee reports the league has requested formal discussions with Cal Expo regarding a new arena.

A Cal Expo spokesman says the board will likely approve the negotiations at its next board meeting in three weeks. Meanwhile, the railyards -- and thus downtown -- has been given up on.

[League rep John] Moag said the NBA looked to the railyard as its first choice for an area location but couldn't come up with a viable proposal.

"There's no getting around the fact that a lot of challenges remain on that site," he said.

So where at Cal Expo would they put the thing? It actually looks like the parties are talking about essentially rebuilding the expo from the ground up. I'd guess much of the east side of the grounds -- the track, etc. -- would be fair game for development. (And there are hints in the Bee story that commercial development of part of the ground could help fund the arena.) The horse racing industry is dying, even moreso than he had the past few decades. Magna Entertainment, a giant international track developer, forfeited millions of dollars it spent in nearby Dixon lobbying for a new facility and promptly shut down two of its other tracks.

Still, Cal Expo is set to benefit from the closures -- in the mix to add thoroughbred racing back to the State Fair next summer and also possibly host dozens more events through the year. It could come down to a choice for Cal Expo (with the caveat this is a rather wild guess): Take on more horse racing and use the revenue to fund a lot of deferred maintenance, or bring in an NBA arena and fund the rebuilding of the exposition from the ground up?