Sacramento City Clerk Shirley Concolino has rejected an attempt to put public funding for the city’s new arena up for vote, reports Ryan Lillis of The Sacramento Bee. A pair of groups called Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal had collected nearly 23,000 signatures on a petition to put the funding on a June ballot, which would have cast some degree of doubt on the city’s ability to keep the Kings. The groups will likely take legal action to overturn today’s decision, according to Lillis.
“I’ve never seen a petition with as many flaws as this one,” Concolino said.
Seattle investor Chris Hansen, whose agreement to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle was rejected by the NBA this past spring, admitted in August to bankrolling the petition drive. Several reports have since called the legitimacy of the signatures into question. Concolino said today that several different versions of the petition circulated, some with “substantial” variations. None of the petitions contained a clause required by California law that would inform signers that the result of the vote to deny public arena funding would be binding.
If the Kings don’t move into a new arena by 2017, the league may strip the team from Vivek Ranadive’s ownership group and arrange for it to be sold to owners who’ll move it into a suitable building in another city, as The Bee reported in May. The team must also show progress toward the arena’s completion in a timely manner, so a rejection of $258MM worth of public funding for a $448MM arena would seriously jeopardize the future of the Kings in Sacramento. Still, reports have indicated that voters would be supportive of the funding, so even if the measure appears on the ballot, it wouldn’t necessarily be a significant blow to the city’s efforts to keep the team.