Group hopes to keep Kings in Sacramento
by Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson revealed for the first time publicly on Thursday that 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov and billionaire supermarket mogul Ron Burkle have partnered on a plan to buy the Kings from the Maloofs and keep the team in Sacramento.
Johnson met his self-imposed deadline and said the group, which will include Mastrov bidding to buy the team and Burkle heading up the investment group to build a new downtown arena, will submit a bid to the NBA with the hopes of derailing Seattle’s efforts to take their team. The Maloofs have reached an agreement to sell the Kings to hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who want to relocate the team to Seattle. Relocation papers have already been filed to the league.
However, Johnson has fought to keep the team in Sacramento. “I do hope they get a team someday … it is not going to be this team, not our team. No way,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said he has been assured by NBA Commissioner David Stern that the Mastrov-Burkle bid will received fill consideration by the league. Johnson also announced plans to build a new arena at the city’s Downtown Plaza.
Beyond the significant investment from Mastrov and Burkle, Johnson said 20 local investors have committed $1 million, including former Kings guard Mitch Richmond. In addition, the Mastrov-Burkle group wants to bring a WNBA team back to Sacramento, and Johnson said he has been promised millions in corporate sponsorship.
“We are a city that works to keep what is ours,” Johnson said.
While the timing of the next step is not certain, Johnson has said all along that he would likely make his formal pitch to the NBA at a Board of Governors meeting in mid-April. The league’s relocation committee and the Board would have to decide on whether Seattle’s pitch is more promising or if Johnson, a Sacramento native, will be able to see his plan through by keeping the team.
While it was widely known that Burkle and Mastrov were in talks to finalize this plan, they were expected to partner … [For more on Group hopes to keep Kings in Sacramento, click here.]