Rush to board the arena gravy train

All aboard! All aboard! The arena gravy train is pulling about. Last call for rich guys to share in Sacramento’s giveaway of money, land, billboards and Mayor Kevin Johnson knows what else.

Billionaire “whale” Ron Burkle is swimming away from a direct role in funding new downtown arena, and Sacramento developer Mark Friedman is rushing in. Friedman’s family controls Arden Fair mall and other properties, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Burkle, once hailed as the savior of the Kings, had to leave the coalition of schemers and dreamers because of a conflict of interest. He is part-owner of a sports management firm that represents some NBA players.

In making the announcement Monday, the mayor said that Burkle will stick around in hopes of cashing in on development near the arena. “There’s a host of ancillary development opportunities that Ron will participate in,” Johnson said.

Burkle’s ouster as a key financier came as a shock to folks who have been following arena developments. But not to insiders, apparently.

“When we were going back to New York, we knew that (Burkle) had a potential conflict,” the mayor told a crowd at Downtown Plaza. “We were trying to work out the issue. Ultimately the NBA felt it violated their rules.”

You might wonder, then, how many members of the City Council knew about this when they approved the term sheet just a week before the mayor presented it to an NBA committee April 3. The enthusiastic Bee story about the council meeting said nothing about Burkle’s shaky status.

“We have four billionaires who’ve essentially said Sacramento is worthy,” said Councilman Steve Hansen, sounding awed by the presence of so much wealth in sleepy Sacramento.

Well, drag $258 million in public giveaways through downtown Sacramento, and there’s no telling who may turn up.





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3 Responses to Rush to board the arena gravy train

  1. Biff says:

    I want as many billionaires as possible interested in Sacramento. This city has almost no corporate base and state government is not growing. Sure, it’s a bit of gamble for the city, but you sound awfully self-righteous. You make it sound like we’re bringing riff-raff to town. Have a little vision. Of course, you might just enjoy walking through that ghost town in Downtown Plaza.

  2. Jason says:

    An observant Seattle Sonics fan on Twitter noted that Mark Friedman seemed more interested in the real estate development aspects of the deal than basketball. With Ron Burkle, according to one report, not excited about the deal, only pursuing ancillary development projects in downtown, one could see that KJ “assembled the whales” by dangling public money to bring them to a development project in which the city bears most of the risk and the “whales” get most of the return. And we have a late marriage of convenience, KJ needs a new whale, or large water creature, to cover what was supposed to be Burkle’s arena investment and Mark Friedman, per your blog, get’s on the “arena gravy train.”

  3. bbbbmer says:

    Steve Hansen would throw his own mother under the bus if it meant he could move money from his statewide corporate contributors into KJ’s coffers… He’s a disgusting critter…

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