The city of Sacramento officially approved plans for a new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings late Tuesday night:
Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento City Council approved the deal by a 7-2 vote:
A new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings has been approved by the City Council by a 7-2 vote— Ryan Lillis (@Ryan_Lillis) May 21, 2014
In an official press release from the team, Mayor Kevin Johnson said:
Tonight's vote is a historic moment for Sacramento and the culmination of years of hard work from so many in our city and our region. Sacramento has had a vision for its future, and I am so proud of our community for their fight and resolve to ensure that vision became a reality. I can't wait till groundbreaking in the fall.
Team owner Vivek Ranadive said:
We want to thank Mayor Johnson and the Sacramento City Council for their leadership. We are humbled by tonight's historic vote and the opportunity to truly transform this great city. Most importantly, I want to thank Kings fans and the amazing people of the entire region for their passion and support. As I've always said, the Sacramento Kings belong to you.
The team will move out of Sleep Train Arena, which was built in 1988. Once regarded as the best home court in the league, the former Arco Arena has since become outdated and an eyesore for the team.
The new arena will cost an estimated $477 million. The city will be paying $223 million, and the team will pony up the other $254 million. Any cost overruns will also be covered by the Kings. The grand opening is tentatively scheduled for October 2016.
Terms of the deal state that the Kings will stay in Sacramento for at least 35 years.
As Cowbell Kingdom's James Ham pointed out, this is the final step in the process of keeping the Kings in Sacramento for the long term:
Welcome to Sacramento, your home of the Sacramento Kings for atleast the next 35 years.— James Ham (@James_Ham) May 21, 2014
Monumental night for Sacramento. A new arena is signed sealed and delivered. #HereWeStayed— James Ham (@James_Ham) May 21, 2014
Although many Kings fans will be rejoicing with this news, many critics of public funding for sports stadiums will be rankled by the fact that the city of Sacramento is contributing what equals out to nearly 50 percent of the initial cost of the new arena.
Proponents of the deal will argue that $223 million is a small price to pay for the Kings staying in Sacramento for the next three-plus decades. The threat of the team moving was very real.
Now that the team's future off the court is secured, it can go about putting a winner on the court again. The franchise hasn't had a winning season since 2005-06. The Kings need to pounce upon this positive momentum and begin the necessary revitalization.
Then again, the fans will just be happy that there's a team to cheer for.