Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson is determined to keep the Sacramento Kings in California and is prepared to announce who his investors are that could make that happen Thursday night at the State of the City address.
It is unknown exactly who these investors are, but there are rumors circulating that it could be Pittsburgh Penguins part owner Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, while many believe Kings minority owner John Kehriotis may have been able to get a small group of investors together to come up with the cash.
Johnson believes a competing offer should be enough to let the league allow the team to stay in Sacramento instead of allowing buyers Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to move the team to Seattle. He also believes that if his group of investors can get an approved arena financing deal that should be enough for them to have the upper edge over Hansen and Ballmer because those two gentlemen do not have a new arena for the relocated team to play in. Instead, they will have to settle for the Key Arena in Seattle next season until they get the go ahead to move forward with any other plans.
“That’s a key variable, and I think that gives us a competitive advantage,” Johnson said. “… That’s a key reason why, unfortunately, a team left Seattle and why teams do leave, because you can’t get arena deals done.”
The problem Sacramento is facing is that the Maloof family has already agreed to a deal with the Seattle group. Hansen and Ballmer have already put their game plan into motion to relocate the Kings because in their eyes they have already won. They already put the money forth to purchase the team and they do not see any reason why they should be prevented from claiming their prize.
However, trustee David Flemmer will be moving up the date for when a seven-percent stake in the Kings will be auctioned off. This seven-percent minor stake could be the difference if the Kings do end up getting moved to Seattle this summer or stay in Sacramento. The individual that purchases the stake could match the offer put in by the Seattle investors and therefore be the reason for why the Kings will stay put.
Johnson and his group of investors must turn in their counteroffer to the NBA by March 1 and the league will then vote on the proposal for the team in April.