by Ken Gimblin
SACRAMENTO–The new ownership of the Sacramento Kings might have to dig in at the ballot box politically this coming June as a anti arena group has geared up to oppose the new arena proposal. The new group Voters for a Fair Arena Deal will not be working with Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed To Pork or STOP. Non-union contractors who appeared at one of the Kings rallies at the Westfield mall the site of the proposed new Kings arena are joining the protest against the new arena and plan to support VFAD.
The non-union contractors are upset that they were not included in any process of the new arena build, the new arena is expected to be built by only union labor.VFAD is separating itself from the better known group STOP due to questionable petition gathering by STOP and how signatures were gathered by STOP were in question. Also STOP’s involvement with Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen who paid $50,000 to have signatures gathered by STOP. Hansen who lost his bid to move the Kings to Seattle might have been seeking a way to stop the Kings from building a new arena in Sacramento if it were put to a vote regarding public funding.
Hansen later said he had nothing to do with paying the $50,000 for the signature gathering after receiving heavy criticism by city and NBA officials behind closed doors sources say to put a ballot measure to have any new public funding for any new sports facilities built in Sacramento to be voter approved first.
The public’s share of subsidizing the new Kings arena downtown is around $258 million. Hansen later backtracked after realizing he might have damaged his chances to buy, build a new arena, and own an NBA team in Seattle. VFAD is going forward with the petition campaign saying they want the public funds policed for new sports facilities which should be voted on by the Sacramento voters.
The non-union contractors who will not be involved in any of the construction work are willing to contribute to the ballot measure effort by donating $15,000-$25,000. VFAD will not be joining STOP to work in concert with getting the measure on the ballot distancing themselves from STOP because of what is considered questionable campaigning in obtaining the petition signatures and their involvement with Hansen.
Community activist Craig Powell from the group Eye on Sacramento said, “we are not opposed to the new arena, we are not opposed to the public subsidy for an arena. What we are in favor for is a subsidy we can afford.” Craig has said that the price tag of $258 million in public subsidies is too much and will do damage to the city budget.
Ken Gimblin is covering the Sacramento Kings for Sportstalk with game day reporters Tony Renteria and Charlie O