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Rocklin joins arena task force team

Chamber president, council member to advise on new Sacramento arena complex
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Two community leaders from Rocklin are now officially members of the newly publicized regional task force to campaign for a new downtown Sacramento arena. The group, called “Here We Build,” includes 70 business and elected government officials from Yuba City to Auburn to Winters and Elk Grove. Joining this group are Rocklin City Council member Scott Yuill and Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce President Dave Butler. “It is 68 of our closest friends throughout the greater Sacramento region,” Butler told the Rocklin City Council at their June 14 meeting. The group was formed by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson after the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball franchise owners threatened to move the club from its Natomas arena to Anaheim. Butler said the chamber sent a letter of support to keep the Kings franchise in Sacramento before joining the group. Now Butler thinks his participation in the group could help Rocklin. “We want to work collaboratively to develop a potential regional funding solution for a downtown sports and entertainment complex on the condition that any regional funding will also fund local projects,” Butler said. Yuill and Butler attended their first meeting last Thursday and got a sneak peak at Johnson’s proposed funding options for the new multi-million dollar arena expected to be built in the Sacramento Railyard. Yuill downplays the significance of the group. “The primary purpose of these three one-hour meetings, as I understand, is to provide a forum for all surrounding jurisdictions to listen and be heard on the viability of financing options for an arena,” Yuill said. “To that end, it’s important that someone from Rocklin attend and report back.” Council member Brett Storey wanted to be cautious in showing support for Rocklin’s participation in the forum. Storey said he wanted to avoid any appearance that the council supports any new tax raising ideas. “I have a very grave concern,” Storey said. “I’ve read comments and heard people say (Sacramento) will do anything to keep the Kings, but if they would take this distinguished group and come out with a report that says we support a tax raising of some kind. People are going to read that and say, ‘all these councils support that’ and I think that’s inappropriate.” Yuill explained the group viewed financing options that included sales tax and using money from the hotel tax and rental cars, which have funded other stadiums regionally. “Notably, it was stated several times that a proposal of a broad-based tax to fund this venture wouldn’t be palatable. And I completely agree,” Yuill said. So why is Rocklin involved in a business venture in Sacramento? Council member Diana Ruslin explained, at this time, there is no direct financial impact for Rocklin residents, and the proposed entertainment and sports complex is not simply just about the Kings. “I see a peripheral benefit since Rocklin is a part of the Sacramento surrounding region and Rocklin residents can take advantage of the events the arena offers,” Ruslin said. “A rising tide lifts all boats. A thriving Sacramento has potential to lift the value of the entire region.” Mayor Johnson’s spokesperson Joaquin ac said most of the people that would use the complex would not be from Sacramento. “You look at a lot of the events, either King’s games or non-sporting events, two-thirds of the attendees are from outside Sacramento County,” McPeek said. “We want to make sure we are reaching as many of those potential attendees.” McPeek said the complex would be a magnet for national and international events as well as conventions that would bring business to the region and put more people in hotels. The group’s next meeting is June 30 with the hope that the self-imposed 100-day deadline would cement a consensus on the financial plan. The group’s final report is due by Sept 8.