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Arena pitched in El Dorado Hills

Six percent of those who attend Power Balance Pavilion events are from El Dorado County
By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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Think Big Sacramento started small with last week’s four county bus outreach tour to promote the region-wide benefits of a $387 million entertainment and sports complex proposed for downtown Sacramento by launching its sales pitch in El Dorado County. The kick-off was in El Dorado Hills, representing one of the smallest of the six-county Sacramento region’s markets for attendance at Sacramento Kings and various arts and entertainment performances at the National Basketball Association team’s current Power Balance Pavilion home. El Dorado County in Think Big’s “Capitol Corridor Impact Report” was identified as the source of 6 percent of the attendance at Power Balance events. That trails the 13 percent of Placer County and 6 percent of Solano and Yolo counties is but ahead of 3 percent for Sutter County and 2 percent for Yuba County. Regions outside Sacramento city cumulatively make up nearly 75 percent of attendance for all Power Balance Pavilion events, according to the Think Big report. Chris Lehane, executive director of Think Big, spoke at the tour’s El Dorado Hills suburbs press conference stop in front of the California Welcome Center and the town’s chamber of commerce. Also speaking was Kevin Nagle, president and CEO of Envision Pharmaceuticals, based in the El Dorado Hills Business Park and an El Dorado Hills resident. He called the Think BIG tour part of “an enormous education process” and of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s effort to “get out into the communities” in the region. “We’ve already seen what the sports/entertainment complex will look like, what the essential price may be, we already know the location and now the question is, ‘How do we finance it?’” Nagle said in an interview. “How do we bring all the region’s counties together?” Nagle, a member of the 60-person Think Big committee, believes its message can buck the region’s current sluggish economy and high unemployment rate. “I think our message really responds to that,” he said. “Our goal is to try to find as much private financing as possible.” With a new arena in downtown Sacramento closer than the present Natomas location of Power Balance Pavilion north of that city, he also sees residents of El Dorado County more likely to drive to events or to take public transit. Not so sure is Ivan Jerez of El Dorado Hills who says such a trip would depend on the kind of event scheduled. Terry Shapiro of El Dorado Hills said she would drive to Sacramento “occasionally” for basketball games and shows. “But I don’t think we should pay for the arena,” she added. “The Maloof family (owners of the Kings) should have to pay for it.” The proposed 675,000-square-foot new complex, with a projected capacity of 18,594 for basketball, would be built adjacent to the current Amtrak station and planned rapid transit service in downtown Sacramento on 244 acres near Interstate 5. “The Economic Engine Report” prepared for Think Big Sacramento forecasts just over $157 million in annual revenue for the region from the complex, whose construction it says would create more than 3,700 jobs. John Knight, county supervisor for El Dorado Hills’ District 1 and also a member of the Think Big committee who lives in El Dorado Hills, called the overall response to the group’s efforts “positive.” He terms the downtown arena concept at the rail yard “great” and agrees with Nagle. “The big question everybody is asking and nobody has an answer to yet is how everything’s going to be paid for,” he said. Selling the complex and its concept in this economy, Knight admits, “is going to be tough. There’s got to be a lot of private money in this.”