A night view of the Grand Entrance for the new arena in downtown Sacramento. (AECOM via the Sacramento Kings)

Bay Area Buzz 1/29:

Kings’ arena is the only real plan to revitalize downtown Sacramento

What’s the alternative to building an arena in downtown Sacramento?

There isn’t an alternative – not a real one, anyway. No competing project is being nudged out by the arena. No other prospective entrepreneur is committing millions of dollars to a section of downtown Sacramento that has been bleak for decades.

Only one serious bidder aims to do something at the dismal Downtown Plaza shopping mall – Vivek Ranadive and his team of owners with the Kings.

People can argue that Sacramento is investing too much – $258 million – in the arena project. They can claim the city is undervaluing the price of the land, though that’s in dispute.

What’s missing from the arena debate is an acknowledgment that there is no otherreal or tangible proposed deal between the Kings and Sacramento.

The prospect of the new arena transformed Tuesday’s annual gathering of downtown business owners at the State of Downtown breakfast at Memorial Auditorium. A sellout crowd swooned over renderings of the arena – and not only because the building seems dynamic and transformative. The arena represents the biggest news for downtown that anyone could remember.

“If they can build the arena, it shows that we take the future of our economy more seriously,” said Sanjay Varshney, dean of the College of Business Administration at Sacramento State. “… You have to offer diverse quality of life. Sports and entertainment are a part of that.”

Is $258 million a lot of money for the city to invest in remaking the Downtown Plaza? Yes. Are there risks involved in paying down the debt over the next decade? Yes. But what are the real consequences of spurning the deal? Losing the Kings, having Sleep Train Arena as a fading asset – and a dead downtown mall.

Where are the dynamic alternative-use proposals for a decaying downtown core? Past State of Downtown breakfasts were depressing events not nearly as well-attended as Tuesday’s gathering.

– Marcos Breton, Sacramento Bee

49ers’ pursuit of Peyton Manning still has meaning now

Yep, there’s no doubt Jim Harbaugh, Trent Baalke, Jed York and Greg Roman can get very aggressive at the quarterback position.

Evidence: Flash back to March 2012, when the 49ers charged hard after Peyton Manning, who had just been released by Indianapolis … while they also had a three-year, $24-million offer on the table to Alex Smith (their incumbent, playoff-game-winning starter) and had Colin Kaepernick, too.

Remember, that was when Harbaugh was being ultra-effusive about Smith.

But it was also the NFC title-game loss to the New York Giants and after Manning suddenly became available. And when that happened, Harbaugh really never blinked in the chase for Manning.

And now, the 49ers are moving forward after recently losing an NFC Championship game and Harbaugh is being ultra-effusive about Kaepernick, so …

No, I’m not suggesting the 49ers will make a move for somebody to challenge Kaepernick’s starting spot in 2014.

Kaepernick is Harbaugh’s QB for the foreseeable future, period.

But after that wrenching loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship game, it’s wise to remember that Harbaugh, Baalke and York have a history of going through every offseason option.

Such as …

Back in March 2012, Manning was an unrestricted free agent but was clearly looking to stay in the AFC all along, and he bonded with Broncos exec John Elway, which is why he picked Denver.

Still, I believe the 49ers finished second in the Manning Sweepstakes and pictured him leading them to Super Bowl titles.

Let’s go through each side of this one and try to figure out what it all means now …

  • Manning made the right call, obviously, by landing with a franchise uniquely set up to his abilities and personality, and he just threw 55 touchdown passes in the regular season to set an NFL record.What would have happened if he had signed with the 49ers? You can’t know if he would have stayed healthy, if he would have flourished in the Harbaugh/Roman offense, or if he would have had chemistry with the 49ers receivers.

    Manning would have been good, though. And now he’s one victory away from his second Super Bowl title.

  • The 49ers were not wrong to chase Manning; again, it’s impossible to know how much things would have been different the last two seasons if Manning was the 49ers QB.At the time they were trying to sign Manning, the 49ers knew they had Kaepernick developing; they probably assumed Kaepernick was one or two seasons away from becoming a winning NFL QB; it turns out, he was only a half-season away from taking over the 49ers offense.

    Plus, the attempt to sign Manning, so soon after Smith guided the 49ers to the NFC title game, showed that Harbaugh wasn’t as sold on Smith as he always said he was.

  • Smith made the right call to stick it out with the 49ers for one more season, even after watching the 49ers go after Manning and knowing Kaepernick was on the horizon.Smith played very well before he got hurt in 2012, experienced the Kaepernick ascension, and then after the season, Smith was traded to Kansas City for two second-round draft picks.

    He’s better off for having gone through all that he went through with the 49ers, and he’s better off in K.C. now with Andy Reid and an offense set up around his skill set.

– Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News

FAQ: What’s the fallout after San Francisco Bulls fold during ECHL season?

The San Francisco Bulls have folded with 32 games remaining in their ECHL schedule, as the team announced it was ceasing operation after 16 months of play.

It’s a sad tale from the Bay Area, as the San Jose Sharks affiliate hoped new owners could keep the franchise going by moving it to Oakland or Fresno. The team lost a reported $2 million last season and the picture was just as bleak this season.

So what happens to the players and the ECHL with a team suddenly folding? Here’s a quick FAQ:

Q. So the Bulls folded with 32 games remaining on their schedule; are those games officially forfeits a.k.a. automatic wins for their ECHL opponents?

No, they’re not forfeits, even though one of the teams could play in the game and the other doesn’t exist any longer. According to Joe Babik of the ECHL:

“The games are not forfeits. We are in the process of building an updated schedule for each team. The eight teams in the Eastern Conference will all play their 36 home games, though some of the dates, and obviously opponents, will change. Not all road games will be guaranteed, so there is a possibility that some teams may play more, or fewer, than the normal 72 games.”

So a new schedule will be produced to balance out the games the Bull has surrendered, in an attempt to make an equitable solution for playoff seeding.

That’s fair – imagine how pissed off the teams that were part of the Bulls’ 15 wins would have been if future opponents received a free ‘W’ because the Bulls folded now?

Q. What happens to the Bulls players?

According to the ECHL collective bargaining agreement, the Bulls players are now unrestricted free agents, provided they have an ECHL contract and are not on assignment from the AHL or NHL, i.e. on two-way contracts. Leading scorer Dean Ouellet, with 30 points in 38 games, is now a free agent, for example.

Q. What about the players on two-way deals?

Any players on an NHL or AHL contract would have to be reassigned to another club by the team holding their contract. CSN Bay Area reports that the Sharks have five players under contract with the Bulls in goaltender J.P Anderson, defensemen Kyle Bigos and Steven Tarasuk, and forwards Riley Brace and Sebastian Stalberg. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they will be reassigned “in the very near future.”

– Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy (Yahoo Sports)

Tags: Alex Smith Colin Kaepernick Peyton Manning Sacramento Arena Sacramento Kings San Francisco 49ers San Francisco Bulls

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