Billionaire Ron Burkle Drops Out of Sacramento Kings Ownership Group

by April 09, 2013

One of the key players in the ownership group hoping to keep the Kings in Sacramento, Ron Burkle, is no longer in the picture due to a conflict of interest. Mayor Kevin Johnson insists that this is not a setback. Per the SacBee: “Ten days before the NBA decides whether the Kings stay in Sacramento, a key investor in the effort has been forced into a secondary role. Beverly Hills billionaire Ron Burkle, a driving force for the past two years in trying to keep the Kings from leaving town, will not invest in the team or the proposed Downtown Plaza arena, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Monday afternoon. Facing questions over a conflict of interest, Burkle instead will focus on redeveloping other portions of Downtown Plaza. ‘He’s so committed to Sacramento,’ the mayor said, adding that he spoke with Burkle on Monday. ‘There’s a host of ancillary development opportunities that Ron will participate in.’ Burkle was going to take the lead in developing the proposed $448 million arena and would have held a small ownership stake in the team. Sacramento officials had said his presence was a huge asset in part because he successfully developed a new arena three years ago for his hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Johnson insisted that Burkle’s new role would not deflate the effort to keep the Kings from going to Seattle, and said other investors would pick up the financial slack. He did not give specifics. ‘I don’t look at this as a slow-up or a hiccup,’ he said. ‘We won’t miss a beat.’ He said that NBA team owners, who met with the Sacramento investors last week, were comfortable with the shifting arrangement. With Burkle taking a back seat, software magnate Vivek Ranadive and East Bay health-club financier Mark Mastrov ‘are going to be the lead investors’ on the team and arena, the mayor said.”