Last night, the Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 in favor to shop the city’s parking assets to potential parking operators.  Darrell Fong and Sandy Sheedy were the two councilmembers who voted against the motion.

The yes vote doesn’t mean the city will be leasing off its parking structures and spaces just yet.  Rather, it merely allows Sacramento to now find out what they’re worth. There are still numerous variables to be considered, such as the contract length of any lease.  By leasing parking to a private entity, Sacramento could generate an estimated $200-million or more, which would be the most significant source of funding for a new arena.

Detractors of the plan are worried about potential lost profits if the parking rights are leased. Analysis by city officials projects that parking revenues could generate up to $2-billion dollars over the next 50 years for a private operator. There’s also concern about a $9-million annual loss to the general fund.  In contrast, a study, released by the Think Big Sacramento group in June, outlined the benefits of a new arena, which include a projected annual benefit of $116-million to the city and a $7-billion boost in economic activity over a 30-year period.

A huge wave of anti-arena sentiment began the public comment portion of the agenda. But then a bigger current of support followed, with proponents focusing on non-basketball benefits of a new arena.

The next major step comes February, when the council will know the approximate value of the parking assets.