Posted March 01, 2013

Mayor Kevin Johnson announces equity partners, plans to bid for Kings

Ben Golliver, David Stern, Kevin Johnson, Mark Mastrov, Ron Burkle, Sacramento Kings, Seattle Supersonics
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is continuing the fight to keep the Kings even with the odds against him. (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is continuing the fight to keep the Kings. (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson revealed the names of two major equity partners and announced details of their plans to bid on the Kings and construct a new arena during his State of the City address on Thursday.

Johnson pledged to keep the Kings in Sacramento in the wake of a purchase and sale agreement between the Maloof family and an investment group led by Valiant Capital’s Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that has filed paperwork to relocate the franchise to Seattle.

“With all due respect to Seattle,” Johnson said. “Let me be perfectly, crystal clear: It is not going to be this team. Not our team. No way.”

The city’s plan relies on Mark Mastrov, the founder of 24 Hour Fitness, and billionaire Ron Burkle, co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mastrov, Johnson explained, will submit a “very strong and competitive bid” to the NBA and to the Maloofs to purchase the Kings on Friday.

“[Mastrov] has stepped up and stepped forward and is willing to put forward a proposal to buy our Sacramento Kings and keep them right here where they belong,” Johnson said, calling the announcement a “defining moment” for his city.

Johnson, a three-time NBA All-Star, also announced that Burkle has “agreed to lead our charge to bring a world-class” arena in the city’s Downtown Plaza area. 

“I know we’re still very much in this game,” Johnson said. “We never give up, we never give in, we never say never.”

Until Friday, the participation of Mastrov and Burkle in efforts to keep the franchise in Sacramento hadn’t been made official. Recent reports referred to the presence of wealthy “whales” who planned to join Johnson’s effort.

NBA commissioner David Stern acknowledged during All-Star Weekend in Houston that the Kings’ saga would leave either Seattle or Sacramento empty-handed.

“I don’t see any scenario in which both cities are happy here,” Stern said, ruling out the possibility of expansion to accommodate both cities’ desire to have a franchise.

The NBA’s Board of Governors will meet in New York City on April 18 and 19 to vote on the sale agreement between the Maloofs and the Seattle-group as well as the application for relocation. Johnson said he will be in attendance at the meetings to make his pitch.

“I’ve been assured by the commissioner of the NBA that we will be given full consideration,” Johnson said.

Stern said in Houston that it was “plausible” that a Kings over could win out over Seattle’s agreement but cautioned against this turning into a bidding war, saying that the owners would have a “very open mind” as they weighed the two offers.

“I don’t believe it’s going to come down to economics,” Stern said of the Board of Governors’ consideration of two possible offers. “I think the owners are going to have a tough issue to decide. … We don’t have the predicate for that tough decision yet. It’s going to wait upon Mayor Johnson making good on his statement that there will be an offer. And it’s going to be upon the Sacramento area, a number of the regional municipalities and the various people who have been saying they’ll give the mayor the support he needs.”

Johnson also announced that 20 community leaders have pledged at least $1 million each to the effort to keep the franchise in Sacramento, with former Kings guard Mitch Richmond being one of the investors. In addition, he announced that he has received commitments of $50 million for five years from the city’s business community and that it was his group’s intention to restore the Sacramento Monarchs WNBA franchise. Kings fans recently held a “Here We Buy” in an effort to express their interest in keeping the franchise, which relocated to Sacramento from Kansas City in 1985.

The Seattle-area investment group’s plan is to play in KeyArena until a new stadium can be completed. The franchise would take on the SuperSonics moniker, starting a new chapter after the original team played in Seattle from 1967-68 until 2008, when they were relocated to Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder. The group’s purchase and sale agreement includes a 65 percent share of the team at a $525 million franchise valuation.

8 comments
mickeyphil
mickeyphil

Sacramento didn't seem to have a problem with taking the team from Kansas City.  

 

Wait, that was different.  

 

It is always different when you are doing the taking.

blackeaglejay
blackeaglejay

 @mickeyphil

 Yep thats what it comes down to. Its almost like someone who enjoys making fun of people, but when it happens to them, they get angry and upset. Well Kings fans, get angry and upset now after you had numerous opporunities to show up to games and show fan support.  Blame your crappy owners for this loss. Even though I rather see the team move back to KC...oh well.

6marK6
6marK6 like.author.displayName 1 Like

The Sonics never should have been stolen from Seattle, that was wrong and the NBA should not have allowed it. That being said, that doesn't give Seattle the right to do the same thing to Sacramento.

kmusicman
kmusicman

 @6marK6 Not the "same  thing", please watch "Sonicsgate", and then you can select your words better.

blackeaglejay
blackeaglejay

 @kmusicman  @6marK6

 definitely not the same thing. Kevin johnson said "Not our team"...yeah right...it is going to be your team thats moving.  Maloofs F'd your team up, now deal with it.

SteveMehlman
SteveMehlman

 @blackeaglejay  @6marK6  @kmusicman   And any city has a right to fight to keep the team it has. Yes, the Maloofs are first class a-holes, but that doesn't mean that SacTown should--or will--"just sit back and enjoy it."  The only really troubling thing is the lack of any empathy from those in Seattle who had it done to them.

blackeaglejay
blackeaglejay

 @6marK6  @kmusicman  Anyone has the right to buy a team and relocate them. Its up to ownership to keep their promises and their words. Blame your owners for the failure in keeping Kings in Sactown.  Nothing to do with Seattle swooping in.