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Mayor Johnson Says Arena Is Key To State Of The City


Updated: 2/13/2014, 8:29 AM

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson says 2014 will be the "year of groundbreakings." He spent much of his State of the City address Wednesday night talking about the biggest groundbreaking, for a downtown arena. 

The last 25 minutes of Johnson's speech were dedicated to the arena. Some of that time was spent reacting to a lawsuit that alleges the City of Sacramento gave under-the-table "sweeteners" to the Sacramento Kings' new owners.

The Mayor said despite controversy over the plan, the 258 million dollars the city will put toward the project is justified:

"It is not a subsidy. we aren't talking about writing a check or giving a handout to someone else and hope things happen. This is an investment. this building will be publicly owned. It will be owned by you, the citizens of Sacramento. This is our investment in our future, Sacramento," the Mayor said.

Groups opposed to the arena are working toward a public vote on the project. 



Mayor Kevin Johnson focused on the proposed downtown arena.   Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The Mayor listed the newest "sweeteners" that the Kings owners had added to the project which he says all benefit the community. The latest is a guarantee that 70 of the 300 apprentices working on the arena will come from at-risk, low-income, or disadvantaged communities.

"Veterans and foster youth and ex-offenders and homeless and single parents and unemployed folk will have an opportunity to become an apprentice, participate in skills and training and launch a career in the construction industry and have a path to the middle class," Johnson said.

The Mayor also announced that the Kings would donate as much as $100,000 in season ticket deposits to literacy programs in Sacramento.

After the speech, the Mayor said he believes the City and the Kings will find more ways to help different groups of people.

"We're looking around the country for best practices -everything that works or maybe things that people tried but didn't work and maybe we could try it different," he said. "In Sacramento, everything we do is with that intent of being a model and doing it in a way more people benefit than just basketball players or sports fans."

The Mayor plans to be in New Orleans this weekend for the National Basketball Association All Star Game. He says it will be the first time in four years he can attend the game without worrying about another city trying to steal the Kings away.

Rebecca Almanza from East Sacramento says she was glad the Mayor talked about more than the arena....but:

"The things that I liked was that he was paying attention to aesthetics, the arts, he was really concerned about the quality of education in Sacramento," she said. "All of those things pleased me very much." 

Warren Shingle from Natomas says he was impressed with the Mayor's vision:

"The things that I liked was that he was paying attention to aesthetics, the arts, he was really concerned about the quality of education in Sacramento," Shingle explained. "All of those things pleased me very much."


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