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Sacramento arena referendum would require lots of money

One of the lingering threats to the Sacramento arena plan is that of a voter referendum. It's an expensive proposition for opponents.


In the interest of fairness, we should discuss a potential voter referendum on the downtown Sacramento arena. Opponents of the arena plan are still vowing to bring it to voters. They don't really have anything to organize around now until the NBA makes its final decision and the Sacramento City Council begins entering binding agreements with the developers. But still, they vow to do so.

If they do, it's going to be a REALLY expensive project. First, there's the collection of signatures. Basically every group that gets a referendum or initiative onto the ballot pays for signature collectors to get the required amount. That's a chunk of money. Then there's the actual vote campaign itself. The groups that support the arena plan -- and they are many, from labor to business to the actual Kings investors to the political establishment -- will heavily finance the opposition to the referendum. Can the few, unrepresented opponents compete with that, even backed by regional or statewide anti-government groups like Howard Jarvis? And by the time we get to this point, Chris Hansen will be out of the equation -- it'll do him little to no good to fund the opposition (as has been rumored to this point).

And since I know opponents would point to 2006: no Maloofs would be involved in this referendum. The odds of a total implosion by the pro-arena side reduce immensely from that single factor.

I never doubt the power of a public vote to surprise me, especially in this state. But if opponents do push for referendum, they look to have a big, multi-stage uphill battle.