Has Sacramento found the whales it needs in its effort to save the Kings?
Just hours after Kevin Johnson introduced the city’s local partners, reports have surfaced that supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and fitness tycoon Mark Mastrov are considering joining forces to bid on the Sacramento Kings.
A source familiar with the negotiations told The Bee 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.
The fact that the two men are willing to join forces is seen as significant by Sacramento supporters. There are five potential owners currently in play, but Mastrov and Burkle are seen as the heaviest hitters among that group.
Burkle is known to be focused on the arena plan that is unfolding at Sacramento’s downtown plaza, where the property’s new owners, JMA Ventures, have shown an interest in partnering with prospective owners of the Kings on the project.
Mastrov has already gone on record expressing his interest in the Kings. The founder of 24 Hour Fitness attended the Kings/Heat game more than a week ago and was seen exchanging pleasantries with mayor Johnson at halftime. He sold the fitness chain for a reported $1.7 billion in 2005. The exercise mogul also came in second to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber when the Golden State Warriors went up for sale in 2010.
Burkle made an attempt to purchase the Kings in 2011 when the Maloofs attempted relocate the franchise to Anaheim.
“The Maloofs have been strong owners and a positive part of the Sacramento community for years,” said Burkle Group Partner Darius Anderson in a prepared statement two years ago. ”but it is important that Kings fans and residents of the Sacramento region know that the Burkle Group is ready to commit the resources and expertise necessary to keep the NBA in Sacramento. Our group believes Sacramento is an important NBA market that can thrive with new ideas, new resources and an absolute commitment to delivering the best on and off-court experiences for fans.”
Johnson has said that he’s remained in contact with Burkle since then.
“He and I consistently have a conversation, so that is why I guess I’m answering it slightly different,” Johnson said two weeks ago. ”Burkle was in discussions about a possibility a year ago or two years ago when we were there. And we’ve always stayed in constant contact.”
The supermarket magnate has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion according to Forbes and is part owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s also connected to an effort to build a new arena at the site of the downtown shopping plaza.