Rich Investors Ready to Bid to Keep Kings in Sacramento

by January 23, 2013

By virtually all accounts, the Sacramento Kings appear well on their way out of Sac-Town. The sale has of the team has begun, the NBA’s Board of Governors is expected to approve it, and they should be playing in Seattle by the start of next season. Unless, of course, a group of deep-pocketed investors can convince the League to keep the franchise right where it is. Per the Sac Bee and the AP: “Billionaire Ron Burkle and Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to team up on a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and partner with the city of Sacramento on a plan to help finance a new downtown sports arena. A source familiar with the negotiations said that Burkle and Mastrov are both committed to keeping the team in Sacramento and building the Kings into a contender. The teaming of Burkle and Mastrov is seen by city officials as a ‘dream team’ counter offer to the group that this week agreed to buy the Kings and move the franchise to Seattle, the source said. Burkle, who owns the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, has been mentioned by both Mayor Kevin Johnson and NBA Commissioner David Stern as a potential suitor of the Kings. Mastrov, the founder of the 24 Hour Fitness chain, made an unsuccessful bid to buy the Golden State Warriors in 2010 and until now had been the only person to publicly express interest in buying the Kings and keeping them here. […] Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had a stern warning for Seattle SuperSonics fans who are excited about the prospect of the NBA returning to the Puget Sound next season. ‘Don’t celebrate too early,’ he said. In front of a cheering City Hall crowd filled with fans and public officials Tuesday, Johnson introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in California’s capital city. The three-time NBA All-Star turned mayor unveiled 19 local investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to be part of a group that would buy the franchise. Johnson said the major partner he hopes will anchor the last-ditch deal to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle will be revealed as soon as this week. ‘We’ve been here before,’ Johnson said. ‘Our backs have been against the wall. They told us it wasn’t going to happen. But each and every step along the way, as long as there is time on the clock, our community always finds a way to stand up for itself.’ […] ‘When I played in the NBA for 12 years, Seattle had some of the best fans in the NBA,’ Johnson said. ‘No different than Sacramento. Incredible fans. And when they lost their team a couple years ago, it was devastating to me, because those fans fought like crazy and rallied and they cheered on the home team. And I strongly believe they deserve an NBA team at some point. Just not ours.'”