Josh Wood at the podium with members of Crown Downtown
The heat is on. As the final petitions are being counted. Pro Arena supporters are in high alert with the Mayors office and the city’s largest newspapers leading the charge.
The high or low point was a pro arena press conference held last Friday at at Sacramento’s Eastlawn Cemetery. The pro side accused the opposition of collecting names from dead people.
With all the petitions in the hands of Sacramento County Registrar of Voters one might question the logic of the city’s continued campaign to discredit S.T.O.P .
So there they there were Mighty Six standing at Eastlawn Memorial a quiet place with um, dead people including former Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna. .
The officials at the cemetery said they were approached by Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office seeking a historical location in the city for a press conference with the mayor. The cemetery believed Johnson would be in attendance, but said the mayor did not show up. Many were outraged by the use of cemetery .
The counting will be complete next Thursday. As of today, two thousand signatures are needed for a public vote. The number includes withdrawals supplied the the pro arena group.
Shade in Charlotte ( Will Sacramento take a page from Charlotte’s Playbook?)
The arena was originally intended to host the Charlotte Hornets, the city’s original NBA team. In 2001, a non-binding public referendum for an arts package, which included money to build the new uptown arena, was placed on the ballot for voters. This was done in order to demonstrate what was believed to be wide public support for construction of a new uptown venue. The arts package would have been funded with the issuance of bonds by the city.
There was opposition to the referendum, with many feeling that the city shouldn’t fund a new arena at all (the Charlotte Coliseum, since demolished, was just 13 years old at the time). Mayor Pat McCrory vetoed a living wage ordinance just days before the referendum. As a result, Helping Empower Local People, a grass-roots organization supporting the living wage ordinance, launched a campaign to oppose the arena. It argued that it was immoral for the city to build a new arena when city workers didn’t earn enough to make a living. Many of the city’s black ministers switched sides in the arena deal and urged their parishioners to oppose it. The referendum failed with 43 percent for building the arena and 57 percent opposed.
City leaders then devised a way to build a new arena in a way that didn’t require voter support, but let it be known that they would not even consider building it unless the Hornets’ owner George Shinn sold the team. While even the NBA acknowledged that Shinn had alienated fans, NBA officials felt such a statement would anger owners. As it turned out, the NBA approved the Hornets’ application to move to New Orleans. However, the league promised that the city would get a new team—what became the Bobcats—as part of the deal.
As of 2005, the total cost of the arena to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County was not known, but estimated at around $260 million. The construction was approved by the city council, which did not opt to present another referendum to the public. In early 2006, the arena was again the center of controversy as the Bobcats charged a 15,000 fee to Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools for graduations. The fee was eventually waived following a story in The Charlotte Observer concerning the fees.
Sacramento News and Review has summed up the weeks events