SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is preparing for his State of the City address tonight where the Kings saga is expected to take center stage.
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento will be packed as the mayor takes the podium talking about several different Sacramento issues.
“There might be some surprises and some interesting guests today,” said Ben Soskenko, the mayor’s spokesperson.
CBS13 learned through a source that Mayor Johnson will reveal his so-called “whales” at tonight’s speech. The mayor’s spokesperson, Ben Sosenko, stopped short of confirming that report.
“I think the mayor is going to give an interesting update on the Kings tonight,” said Sosenko.
Billionaire businessman Ron Burkle and 24-hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov are reported to be in discussions with the mayor to counter Seattle’s deal to buy the Kings, but it’s unclear if they will be attending the address.
The mayor was not available for an interview today, but his tweets gave a few hints.
Tonight’s the night! Pumped for the State of the City. Sacramento has a bright future and I can’t wait to talk about it with all of you!
— Kevin Johnson (@KJ_MayorJohnson) February 28, 2013
“He said all along by March 1 that he will have a fair and competitive offer to submit to the NBA and he’s still focused on that deadline,” said Sosenko.
As some look forward to the mayor’s Kings investor announcement, others are saying there are more pressing matters.
“It’s not a pressing issue and it’s not something that I think is really supported by the rest of Sacramento,” said Sacramento resident Pam Phillip.
Others think the Kings franchise is important but shouldn’t be the main issue.
“I think there is some worth having them here but how much time and money do we want to spend to make sure that happens is a different story,” said Sacramento resident Derek Decker.
One of the biggest critics of the arena plans is Councilman Kevin McCarty, who is wary of spending too much.
“Biggest priority here for the residents is to bring back city services and I think that’s the top priority the council is locked in on,” said McCarty.
But others argue keeping the Kings in Sacramento will do exactly that.
“I think the Kings are a great asset,” said Daniel Mueller.
Councilman Jay Schenirer says it is not about watching players on the court but about building an arena downtown in hopes of bringing in more money for schools, police, and public transportation.
“It’s really about the downtown development and what we see as the community. Again, that gets back to jobs which get back to a healthy economy, and then more taxes and more services,” said Schenirer.
While public investment in a new arena may equal $255 million, economist and Sacramento State Dean of Business Sanjay Varshney says it’s a check Sacramento may need to write.
“If we want the region to become more vibrant, I think the burden is on all of us to try and figure out what does it take,” said Varshney.
Despite the fact that Johnson has spent most of his time and energy on the Kings in recent months, he list of top priorities for his second term included more police officers and more public safety funding; a 100 year flood protection plan and an end to the building moratorium in flood prone areas like Natomas; and education, specifically improving schools and third grade reading scores.
Incredibly, the entertainment and sports complex was listed as Johnson’s fifth priority.