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Consultant: It makes no sense to move Cal Expo as part of arena project

Sacramento KingsA complicated three-way land swap involving Cal Expo, the city of Sacramento and Arco Arena is on life support after a respected consultant concludes that the swap wouldn’t benefit the Expo on any level.

The proposal calls for the Cal Expo to move to the current Arco Arena site and reuse the arena as an exhibition hall. In return, the 350-acre Cal Expo site would be sold to developers. The proceeds from that sale would fund a new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings (NBA).

Any plan with so many moving parts, of course, has multiple points of failure. It may not even get to the point of failing after Cal Expo consultant Andrew Plescia concluded such a swap would not be in the Expo’s best interests: Arco Arena is unusable as an exhibition hall, the Arco Arena site is too small for a full-fledged fairgrounds, and improvements to Cal Expo buildings could be more easily and feasibly financed by selling off 125 acres of the Cal Expo site. In addition, there’s a funding gap of up to $300 million needed to build a new fairgrounds at the Arco Arena site.

This plan is highly speculative, of course; Sacramento officials are willing to let Cal Expo and private investors work out the details, as is the NBA. A new arena, of course, is needed to keep the Kings in Sacramento. But given the economy and the reluctance of Cal Expo officials to take a financial leap based on developer promises, we’d say the chances of the Kings moving to Seattle or Las Vegas just went up a notch or two.

RELATED STORIES: Maloof: We’re not looking at move to Seattle; Size of Arco Arena site threatens Kings arena deal

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