Kings new arena: Local businessman donates 25K to keep subsidy question on ballot

 by Ken Gimblin

SACRAMENTO–Local business tycoon Chris Rufer has put up $25,000 in donated money to the campaign to stop the Sacramento Kings downtown arena which would place a subsidy question on the June 2014 Sacramento ballot. While the City, local government, and many supporters of the Kings proposed new downtown arena at Westfield Mall is under plans the opposition could turn out to be a wild card as they’re fund raising is starting to take on a life of it’s on.

Rufer whose business is in Sacramento is taking the opposing view. In addition to Rufer’s donation there are two groups working to oppose the arena build in downtown and they both have raised tens of thousands of dollars in their campaign to oppose it.

The groups are fighting to keep an intiative on the ballot that questions if public sudsidies should finance any new proposed sports or entertainment facilities in Sacramento. So far the group STOP Sacramento Taxpayers opposed to Pork and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal have stepped up raising nearly $40,000.

A group who is in favor of the subsidy has delivered collecting cash and checks in the amount of $26,000 and this group is fighting to keep the question of public subsidies being used off the ballot. The price tag for a new Sacramento downtown arena subsidy is $258 million.

The Voters for a Fair Arena Deal have raised $8,500 and STOP has raised $31,473 both groups who are pushing for the opposition to the new arena and putting the question about public funds being spent towards any new such subsidies need 22,000 signatures on the petition to get the queston on the ballot. The 22,000 signatures needed are due by mid December.

The campaign’s credibilty was in question over  the summer when Chris Hansen who wanted to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle funded the signature gathering effort to get the question on the ballot spending $100,000 and having a Los Angeles law firm manage the campaign. STOP said they had no idea that Hansen funded the campaign and Hansen later ended up having to pay a $50,000 fine for violating California campaign disclosure laws.

Rufer is the founder of a company group called Morning Star which is a tamato producer which profits $350 million annually. Rufer’s company now controls 40 percent of the tamato processing in America. Rufer had issues in his company when a former Morning Star executive Fredrick Scott Salyer was sentenced to six years in prison for rackateering and price fixing charges. Rufer said in court papers that alledgedly Salyer cheated the company by bribing executives from competing companies at Kraft foods and Frito Lay, Salyer also alledgedly bribed Rufer’s personal assistant to steal confidential company data.

Ken Gimblin is covering the Sacramento Kings new arena build for Sportstalk Radio