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Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights will soon have a new venue for outdoor events and concerts, following the unanimous approval of a $300,000 grant by the city council on Thursday to pay for a new 2,500-seat “pop-up” stadium at Sunrise Mall.
The stadium proposal was initiated by the Sunrise MarketPlace and is part of a four-year $2.6 million investment the marketplace and mall have planned to attract consumers to Citrus Heights’ primary shopping district along Sunrise Boulevard.
“It really fills a gap in the current market that we have,” City Development Specialist Devon Rodriguez told council members in a staff report, calling the 2,500-seat venue an “ideal” size for many events. “There’s a lot of venues and a lot of larger venues but there’s no venues that are of this size.”
The stadium will feature a similar format to an outdoor stadium used for Sunrise Mall’s past concert series in 2012 and 2013, with a fenced venue and a village with food and beverage options. Events could include concerts, sports tournaments, craft and fair events, graduations, and other uses.
Beginning in 2018, the stadium will be set up outside Sunrise Mall from May through September. Components of the stadium will also be able to be moved to other areas of the Sunrise Marketplace, but grant terms will restrict use to events within city limits of Citrus Heights — and the city will also be able to use the stadium for branding.
About a dozen people spoke during public comment, all of whom were in favor of the stadium proposal and many of whom wore blue Sunrise Marketplace shirts in a show of solidarity. Notable community members and representatives were among speakers, including Chamber of Commerce and business representatives, as well as city “godfather” Bill Van Duker.
“I believe it will put the city on the map,” said Van Duker, noting other cities have attractions like Roseville’s fountains and Saturday-night concerts. “I don’t want the epitaph of this city to be we had great reserves and smooth streets, but no vision.”
Van Duker’s comments were echoed by others, including Fair Oaks resident Janet Mercado who spoke of positive memories about past fireworks display and concerts in the Sunrise Marketplace that drew her to shop and visit Citrus Heights.
Responding to Mercado, Mayor Jeff Slowey said with a smile, “We’ll do our best to make sure Citrus Heights can start taking your Fair Oaks money again here in town.”
Two regional events organizers also spoke in favor of the proposal, including EZ Events, Inc. owner Darlene Lyons.
“We’d love to bring more events to Citrus Heights,” Lyons said during public comment. “But one of our challenges is the lack of a large event venue and especially a gated venue.”
The proposal also won the support of Councilman Bret Daniels, who is often a lone “no” vote on fiscal issues.
“Usually when people pay taxes… they don’t probably think that their money might go towards a project that results in people going to concerts and things like that,” said Daniels, noting that the amount contributed by the city is about 12 percent of the marketplace’s multi-million dollar effort. “But every now and then some things come along and public-private partnerships makes a lot of sense.”
Daniels called the stadium plan “extremely good,” a sentiment expressed by other council members as well.
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Although speaking in support of funding the stadium, the mayor, as well as Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, pushed back a bit on security aspects of the stadium — seeking to ensure the city wouldn’t be hit with any surprise bills for extra police services needed if an event went sour.
Sunrise MarketPlace Executive Director Kathilynn Carpenter responded to the concerns about security, replying in public comment that “we would pay for that; that would not be a city cost.” Under the approved proposal, the city’s only expense is a one-time $300,000 cost for purchasing the stadium, while ongoing costs and marketing will be the responsibility of the marketplace.
Sunrise MarketPlace will be contributing $1.6 million to the four-year $2.6 million marketing and operations effort related to the stadium, and Sunrise Mall will be chipping in $664,000. The city’s $300,00 portion will come from the city’s economic development fund, with funds replenished through several hundred “sewer credits” that the city is able to liquidate, according to city staff.
Following 5-0 approval from the city council on Thursday, Carpenter said the next step will be drafting a “more robust” agreement with the city, followed by the new stadium venue popping up next year.
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