Anti-arena movement finally shows up on eve of big Kings vote

The proposed new downtown Kings arena is poised for good news tomorrow in Dallas. Opposition groups today tried to rain on proponent’s parade.

I guess timing matters.

Sacramento Kings arena opposition has been crickets, even since late March, when city council approved its arena-subsidy blueprint.

But this afternoon, just as Mayor Kevin Johnson was airborne on a flight to Dallas—where the NBA is scheduled to vote on the Sacramento Kings’ fate tomorrow—opponents finally announced both a lawsuit and also a ballot-initiative effort effort to challenge the city’s arena dream.

So, is this an opposition with teeth?

Or were today’s shenanigans just a well-timed PR blitz?

Either way, there’s now a little juice to the movement. The lawsuit, filed by Patrick Soluri and Jeffrey Anderson—who’ve gone after the city’s latest arena deal before—says that city officials struck an unlawful, behind-the-scenes deal with potential Kings suitor Vivek Ranadive and Co.

The plaintiffs—Sacto residents James Cathcart and Julian Camacho (both members of Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork) and popular blogger/podcaster/activist Isaac Gonzalez—argue that the mayor and city manager “concealed or suppressed” facts about the arena pact.

For instance, the city valued the entire arena subsidy at $258 million. But, as SN&R has pointed out in the past, the actual value of the public contribution likely will surpass $300 million, what with the parking spots and digital-advertising billboards, etc, that would be gifted to Kings investors.

The lawsuit pins the total public subsidy at $338 million.

Johnson and the city attorney were quick to dismiss the suit as without merit. And sports legal analyst Micheal McCann told The Sacramento Bee lawsuits such as this “seldom succeed.”

It may not have to.

A ballot-initiative challenging all the arena subsidies also was revealed today. The group, which has some money in the bank (according to the Secretary of State’s CalAccess public-finance filings site) says the arena subsidy is a waste of public funds.

Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods, based out of Southern California, and STOP will need to acquire 22,000 signatures within 180 days to qualify for the next election, in June 2014. The cost of paying signature-gatherers could cost upward of $100,000.

Whether they accomplish that goal or not, today appears to be more smoke than fire, a lot of noise on the eve of the NBA board of governor’s big vote, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Wednesday, at 11 a.m.

Still, look fore more coverage of the lawsuit and signature-gathering effort here on Page Burner and in upcoming SN&Rs.

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