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Placer County has vested interest in downtown arena

Supporters say new arena would generate $160 million in the region annually
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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A report released Thursday revealed Placer County has the highest number of non-Sacramento attendees at Power Balance Pavilion. Think BIG Sacramento released the report as part of a four-county tour that made a stop at The Fountains in Roseville Thursday to speak with Kings fans and educate the public on the potential economic benefits a new arena would have on the region. “It’s pretty clear that the NBA and Kings want to be in Sacramento,” said Chris Lehane, executive director of the Think BIG Sacramento committee. “One of the reasons why the NBA took steps so that the Kings would stay here, at least for another year, was because there was a real regional effort.” Lehane said the proposed arena project would create 4,100 regional jobs during the construction phase. “Three fourths of those jobs will be from outside of Sacramento in the surrounding areas, and in particular, Placer County,” Lehane said. Lehane said the report documented that over a 30 year period, a new facility would generate $7 billion in revenue for the entire region, which is about $160 million annually. “This is bigger than Sacramento,” said Jeremiah Jackson, project manager for Think BIG Sacramento. “It needs to be looked into as a whole region.” Jackson described the proposed new arena as a regional asset, adding that the majority of people who currently attend events at Power Balance Pavilion come from outside of Sacramento. According to the Capital Corridor Impact Report released by the committee Thursday, 75 percent of attendees for basketball and non-basketball events at Power Balance Pavilion come from outside of Sacramento. For basketball events, 62 percent come from outside of Sacramento, and for non-basketball events such as concerts and other events, 80 percent of the people are coming from outside of Sacramento, the report states. Of those attendees coming from outside Sacramento, 13 percent are coming from Placer County, nearly double the amount of people coming from any other county in the region, the report states. “So to us, that really reinforces the fact that this is truly a regional asset with truly regional benefits,” Jackson said. Think BIG Sacramento is a regional initiative launched by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to facilitate construction of a new entertainment and sports complex in Downtown Sacramento. The committee is made up 72 public and private community leaders from throughout the region. Representatives of the committee were on a four-county tour Thursday, visiting cities in El Dorado, Placer, Yolo and Sacramento counties. “This tour is to really get out and meet the community, giving people a chance to get involved and hearing what people have to say,” Jackson said. “With an entertainment sports complex that can create a lot of jobs at a time when we have high levels of unemployment, it affects the entire region in a very positive way.” Kunal Merchant, chief of staff to Kevin Johnson, said along with the economic benefits of a new arena, there is also a quality of life benefit. “It’s astonishing that three out of four people who sit in the stands at that facility don’t live in the city of Sacramento,” Merchant said. “We think that’s an important message for people to realize.” Roseville resident and Kings fan Troy Bedal said he knows a number of Kings fans throughout the region that support the project. “To have a new state of the art arena, it’s only going to create new jobs,” he said. “If you get more jobs, people obviously have more opportunity to grow and develop.” Lehane said one of the things the committee has encountered, aside from the economic arguments, is people want to live in a place that will have a facility that can draw world class events. “It keeps people here long term with regards to where they want to live,” he said. “And they go to events that are here as opposed to going to Oakland or the Bay Area. So the money being spent actually stays in the broader community.” Lehane said the committee is seeking to come up with a public/private partnership proposal by early September and would then need to engage the NBA and ultimately the Kings to reach an agreement that works at the best interest of the public. “The guiding principle is taxpayers need to be put first in the sense that this needs to really represent real jobs, real economic activity,” he said. “It’s not inconceivable to have a new facility ready to go in 2014. Again, that assumes a pretty aggressive timeline.” Merchant said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is committed to being transparent and including the public from the beginning to end of the process. “We want to embrace the fact that people are interested, include them in the process and when we do that, people are a lot more comfortable with whatever comes next,” Merchant said. “We don’t know exactly where that’s going to go, but bringing everyone together and moving forward is absolutely worth the effort.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.