Last month I sent out a series of three emails (below) exploring the status of the 2012 Quality of Life Bond funds that are earmarked for the City’s G-League multipurpose basketball arena.
City Engineer Sam Rodriguez made a presentation to City Council on the City’s deficit spending on its capital projects. On slide 5 of his PowerPoint, corresponding to the 5:42 mark in the video of the meeting, we learn the following:
1. Of the $180 million in 2012 QOL bond funds earmarked for the Arena, $52,544,364 have been issued, of which $16,419,024 have been spent, presumably on real estate acquisitions, legal expenses (not including litigation), and other costs.
2. Thus, $36,125,340 of unspent “Arena” money has been sitting in a City bank account since 2016, and we have paid at least $5 million in interest on that debt.
3. There are $128,455,636 of “Arena” funds that have yet to be authorized from the QOL bond. Adding that to the $36,125,340 in unspent funds, there are only $164,580,976 left for the City’s project!
No one disputes that a 15,000-seat basketball “Arena” would cost more than $500,000,000 to build, which means the City is at least $335,000,000 short.
No one in the private sector has stepped up to the plate to pledge $335,000,000 because investors know that the project will be insolvent, like most arenas of this type that were built in cities across the United States. Local elite developers want taxpayers to foot the bill and assume the risk, as they did for the insolvent Ballpark.
Will the City place a new bond proposition on the ballot to ask the public for another $335,000,000? Of course not. It would never pass.
Will the City issue $335,000,000 in certificates of obligation without voter approval in order to fund the project, taking us past $1 billion in CO debt and raising our property taxes to astronomical levels? Not if any of our current City reps ever want to hold elected office again.
The cold hard truth is there is no money for the “Arena” and never has been.
The project has always been a fraud.
It is time for City Council to put this boondoggle out of its misery and reallocate the remaining bond funds for the Abraham Chavez Theater and Convention Center, as Mayor Leeser has repeatedly stated.
With each day that passes, the taxpayers lose more money in bond interest and litigation costs, while inflation makes the construction costs more expensive.