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City May Drop Arena Site if Deal Isn’t Made

Times Staff Writer

Main Street and MacArthur Boulevard in Santa Ana will be removed from consideration as a site for a Westdome sports arena if the developers don’t make a deal for the property by June 13, city officials said.

Faced with signatures of about 1,200 residents near the site who oppose the plan, City Council members told their staffs to meet with the developers and report by June 13 on the project’s status.

A citizens’ committee recommended that site and two others--Main Street and Owens Drive and Grand Avenue and St. Gertrude Place--to the developers. Before the city took further action, the developers were to try to negotiate a deal for one of the three sites.

Councilman Dan Young said that he and other officials are unable to fully answer residents’ questions about the project until a site is chosen. If the developers haven’t secured the Main-MacArthur property, that site “should be eliminated,” he said.

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Developer Don Oliphant said his partnership made an all-cash offer for the 53 acres of farmland owned by the Sakioka family but has heard no response. “I think everyone’s really jumped the gun,” he said, adding that the offer is “a lot of money and more, frankly, than the property is worth.” He would not disclose the amount.

He said the developers have joined with a financial partner who would develop all but about 10 acres needed for the arena and an office-commercial complex.

Resident Richard Merritt, who submitted the petitions to the council, said opponents fear that Westdome would mean increased traffic, parking problems, noise, air pollution, pedestrian traffic through their neighborhoods and reduced property values.

“The Westdome thing does not belong in an area like ours, and I seriously doubt that it belongs in Santa Ana at all,” he said.

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The arena, which the developers say is necessary to attract a National Basketball Assn. team to Orange County, originally was proposed for the site of the Santa Ana Stadium downtown. The stadium would have been razed to make way for the 20,500-seat arena, and the city would have leased the property to the developers.

After complaints from residents and supporters of the Santa Ana Stadium, the council dropped that plan in January.


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