Kings arena downtown: Kings to begin construction on new arena groundbreaking in coming weeks

by Jerry Feitelberg

SACRAMENTO–Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley made his second major ruling in favor of the Sacramento Kings to start construction on their new arena at Downtown Plaza. The construction was about to face a delay after a recent lawsuit filed by foes opposed to the arena claiming that the new arena would be an act of gentrification and would displace many single occupancy hotel residents in downtown Sacramento.

The ruling by Frawley would clear a path for the arena to start construction but also would force those single occupants to move from their homes in hotels that they stayed in for decades to make way for new buildings in the neighborhood. The foes who learned of their lawsuit loss on Friday had filed the suit under the California Environmental Quality Act. The opposition said that traffic, noise, and pollution issues amongst other complaints were reasons for the suit to get a injunction to block the start of construction for the Kings arena.

Frawley back in Febuary in his first ruling against another opposition group who wanted to place an initiative on last June’s ballot saying that voters should have a vote on whether public funds and building a new arena should be allowed to go forward. The opposition group in this attempt found that that they were caught in a political triangle which went back to Hedge Fund manager Chris Hansen who tried to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle.

Hansen later admitted being behind funding the campaign to put the arena initiative on the ballot. Frawley ruled that the legal language in the initiative was flawed and that the Sacramento Registar of Voters found many discrepancies of unregistared voters who signed documents to get the initiative on the ballot and legal flaws in the language of the ballots were stained. At the time Mayor Kevin Johnson said “I can smell the stench off those ballots” regarding the initiative push.

The opponents lawyer Kelly Smith said in Sacramento Superior Court on Friday to Frawley that the bill that protects new arena projects such as the Kings arena proposal is unconstitutional. The bill was sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg that give teeth to any arena proposal and that any lawsuit trying to block it’s construction could only be successful in the event of a health and saftey issue or if American Native artifacts are threatened.

The state initiative SB743 was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown that stops CEQA lawsuits from injunctions. Opposition after opposition group tried everything to try and halt the construction of the new arena and Frawley had played a key role in ruling in favor of the new arena with stopping some major lawsuits against it’s construction.

The project was originally scheduled to breakground this week but after this latest lawsuit filed the groundbreaking will be recheduled. The Kings new arena is expected to be completed and ready for the NBA season in 2017. The Kings will spend $222 million for their share on the arena project and the city will spend $255 million. The opponents had objected to the city’s use of public subsidies and the use of public parking lots owned by the city to pay back the money barrowed from the general fund another suit that was overruled. Opponents said that the money should have been used towards the arts rather than building a new arena for the Kings.

Jerry Feitelberg is covering the new arena developments for the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors for http://www.sportsradioservice.com

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