SACRAMENTO. (AP) — The city clerk rejected a ballot measure Friday that would have let Sacramento voters decide whether public subsidies can help build a $448 million downtown arena intended as the future home of the NBA's Sacramento Kings.
City Clerk Shirley Concolino cited multiple issues with the petitions that would have put the subsidies on the June ballot.
"I've never seen a petition with as many flaws as this one," she told The Sacramento Bee.
Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal collected nearly 23,000 signatures, an effort that was funded in large part by wealthy Seattle hedge fund manager Chris Hansen. He led a coalition that lost its attempt to buy the Kings and move the team to Washington state.
Concolino said there were nine variations of the petition, some with substantial wording differences. All nine were missing a key disclaimer, while several variations of the petitions omitted other required legal language.
She rejected more than 6,700 signatures as a result of the problems, pushing the number of valid signatures well below the number needed to put the measure on the ballot.
Neither of the two groups pushing for a public vote on the arena financing plan returned telephone and email messages from The Associated Press. They have been critical of the city's planned $258 million subsidy for the arena project.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, himself a former NBA star, was among those praising Concolino's decision, which sets up a likely legal battle.
In a statement, he criticized what he called an "underhanded attempt to subvert and trick voters with misrepresentations, hidden money, and misleading petition language."
Earlier Friday, the Bee reported that the Kings bought a mall that sits on the site of the planned downtown arena. The team is buying Downtown Plaza from the San Francisco-based development firm JMA.
The exact purchase price wasn't available, but documents filed with the county show the Kings borrowed $35 million from Goldman Sachs Bank in connection with the transaction. The filing says the NBA approved the borrowing.
JMA will continue to manage Downtown Plaza and will partner with the Kings on the design and development of the project. In addition to a new arena, the property will include office towers, a hotel, housing and retail.