The Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 last Tuesday to authorize eminent domain to build a new arena downtown for the Sacramento Kings. Many properties for the arena have already been acquired, save for the last parcel at 600 K Street, which used to be a Macy’s.
The property in question is now owned by CalPERS, the state pension fund, which “has no objection” to eminent domain. But U.S. Bank holds a ground lease on the building and is staunchly opposed to condemnation. Sacramento has already pledged to contribute $258 million in subsidies for the arena project, or more than half the arena’s cost. Councilmember Steve Hansen, who voted in favor of eminent domain, argued it was needed to support “the greater good of the community.”
But Councilmember Darrell Fong, who was one of two members to oppose the motion, had “serious concerns” about seizing land for a multimillion dollar professional sports team: “I’ve given this a lot of thought and it does not cross a threshold for me to use eminent domain.”
As the Institute for Justice previously reported, Sacramento is “not alone in seizing for sport:”
In 2009, New York’s highest court upheld condemning 50 properties to make way for a new basketball arena for the Brooklyn Nets. Down in Arlington, Tex. during the 90s, George W. Bush even profited from eminent domain for sports stadiums, turning his initial investment of $600,000 into a cool $15 million when the Texas Rangers were sold in 1998.
— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice