There was a lot of excitement when the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians announced their plans to build a sports and entertainment area, that is still generating a lot of buzz. The arena will be more than 300 thousand square feet, have seating for 10 thousand plus and is expected to open in the fall of 2021.
The Tribe touts 500 direct jobs plus thousands more from the economic boom from the $250 million project not to mention securing a coveted American Hockey League franchise team.
But not everyone is excited about the prospects of an arena downtown. In fact one group, Palm Springs Together, is calling for the governor of California to shut down the project before it gets underway, taking out this full page ad in the LA Times, calling the project “Son of Staples Center”.
“This project is more or would be more than half the size of Staples Center, so that’s where the son of Staples Center comes from,” says Cary Brazeman, the founder of Palm Springs Together.
The open letter to the Governor Gavin Newsom addresses environmental, traffic and safety concerns, ones they claim have not been considered by the Tribe.
“No where else in California would an 11 thousand seat arena be be built without an environmental impact report,” says Brazeman.
The group is asking for the Tribe to do the report, they say by not doing a study the Tribe is violating their commitment to the state.
“We ask the Tribe to honor their obligations under their gaming compacts with the state of California we’re back to the fact that the environment is shared it’s not theirs it’s not ours it belongs to everyone,” says Brazeman.
The City of Palm Springs says they understand the concerns and are working with the Tribe to sole the issues.
Former Palm Springs City Council member J.R. Roberts says he shares the concerns many have about traffic and parking, “I do trust that the City Council is working closely with the Tribe to come up with mitigations but I think what we’re seeing out in the community is frustration because so far we’re not privy to any of those mitigations.”
Palm Springs together wants to clarify they’re not against the project.
“We’re not anti-arena I mean we just want the right size arena in the right location,” says Brazeman.
We reached out to Governor Newsom and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for comment, the did not respond.
The Tribe did release a statement over the summer announcing their intent to do an environmental impact review, but Asst. City Attorney Marcus Fuller says the Tribe determined they as a sovereign nation they are exempt from the Tribal Environmental Act.
Brazeman says if the project goes on as is without the study they will file a lawsuit against the state and city.
Full statement from the City of Palm Springs:
“We understand the community’s concern for, and interest in, the Tribe’s proposed Arena. The City of Palms Springs shares in the goals of always working in the best interests of the residents, businesses and the region. To that end, the City held a public meeting on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ proposed arena on Dec. 5 to hear the community’s concerns. We have forwarded our recommendations to the Tribe for review. We are working with the Tribe and Oak View on these issues, and appreciate the ongoing discussions, although as the proposed development sits on Tribal land they are the government entity responsible for this project.”
Palm Springs City Attorney