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Sacramento arena back-up plan falls apart | News

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Sacramento arena back-up plan falls apart
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SACRAMENTO, CA - The City of Sacramento's "Plan B" to build a new arena at the city's railyards has fallen apart.

Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Tuesday that arena operating giant AEG has opted out of an idea to build an entertainment and sports complex without an anchor tenant.

This announcement came after the Sacramento Kings' owners, Joe, Gavin and George Maloof, pulled out of the original plan in April.

"(AEG) believes very strongly in this market, they believe very strongly in our community, but they didn't feel it was feasible, the economics just didn't pencil out," Johnson said.

However, despite not having an anchor tenant, AEG decided to pursue building the Sprint Center in Kansas City. That arena is now one of the busiest in the country.

Johnson said AEG wasn't willing to take the risk again.

"The return they got on it, it was worth the risk," Johnson said of his conversation with AEG leaders. "The risk was greater than they'd like to do in tons of cities. They'd rather take their $50 or $60 million and invest where the risk is lower and the return is higher."

With the back-up plan dead and no alternative in sight, ThinkBig, the think-tank tasked with building the arena, will shift its focus to other economic development downtown.

Kunal Merchant, Johnson's former chief of staff and current executive director of ThinkBIG, said the team will focus on the 244 acres north of the intermodal at the railyards.

Johnson said they'll be looking to attract corporate offices, entertainment districts or arts facilities.

That said, an arena isn't completely out of the question, if another sports team is found.

"I can't tell you if it's going to happen in a week, or a month or three years or five years," said Merchant. "But I feel very confident that Sacramento is a great market and any kind of tenant in any kind of sport is going to want to come to Sacramento."

By Nick Monacelli, nick@news10.net

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