A swing vote in last week’s Sacramento City Council meeting could have killed the arena project dead in its tracks.  So, it is no wonder why emotions are expected to run high among Kings fans at tonight’s council session.

However, Tuesday evening’s vote should not be cause for concern in the city’s push for a new downtown arena.

City consultants have narrowed down a list of 13 potential parking operators and now just 10 companies will bid for control of Sacramento’s public garages and spaces.  Council is being asked to approve these firms before they formally submit their proposals.

Even if the motion is approved, the city is not bound to begin the “request for proposal” process, according to Assistant City Manager John Dangberg.  A passing vote simply declares these firms fit to bid.

What comes before the proposal process begins:

  1. A non-binding term sheet or outline for the finance, design and construction of the arena.
  2. A plan to backfill Sacramento’s general fund from lost parking revenue.
  3. A budget to pay for lawyers/consultants to help with the parking lease negotiations.

“Before we can move forward with asking (companies) to spend time and money to go through the bidding process, we really need to have the entertainment and sports complex deal put together, at least in concept.” Dangberg said. “Then we can move forward on the parking deal.”

Insert February 28th.

That is when the council will either approve or reject the three items listed above.

The term sheet will give council a general idea of how much the NBA, an arena operator and the city must contribute to the $406-million project.

As for the general fund, Dangberg would not identify how the city plans to make up the revenue, though I am told by those close to negotiations that it is fairly “straight forward.”

The budget for lawyers and consultants will not come cheap. The entire process is expected to sail past $1-million. However, that seems like pocket change compared to what Chicago lost by overlooking its potential parking revenue.

These items will be packaged and ready for council to vote on in two short weeks.

It is all so that the city can show the NBA that Sacramento is making progress and that financing measures are in place to build a new entertainment and sports complex.

Weekly contributor/columnist Rob McAllister is a reporter for KFBK Radio in Sacramento.  You can follow him on Twitter.