The group bidding to purchase and keep the Kings in Sacramento introduced yet another change to its ownership structure today, adding a real estate developer with local ties to its team.
Mark Friedman, son of the late Mort Friedman whose investments revitalized Arden Fair Mall, has joined the prospective ownership group led by Vivek Ranadivé. The news was first reported by the Sacramento Bee then announced officially by mayor Kevin Johnson at City Hall this morning.
“When we went to New York, we shared Mark’s name to the commissioner and the other ownership group,” Johnson said. “They were very pleased with Mark and his reputation and his family with what they’ve done in Sacramento. And in fact, they thought that gives us one of our advantages…that we have such a strong local presence.”
Friedman is founder and president of Fulcrum Property, a real estate company experienced in retail, mixed-use and office development. Some of Fulcrum’s projects include the Market West shopping center in Natomas, the Davis Commons in Davis and Market Square, which houses the United Artists movie theater at Arden Fair.
“I’m obviously a developer and part of the expertise that I bring to the table is how to put together projects,” Friedman said when asked of his possible role in the city and prospective ownership’s plan to build a new arena at the Downtown Plaza. “What we’ll do is we’ll bring together a great team to make sure that Sacramento gets the kind of facility it deserves. But I’m just happy to lend some of that expertise to the partnership.”
Friedman’s addition follows Ron Burkle’s withdrawal from the major equity group due to a conflict of interest. The supermarket magnate owns Relativity Media, which includes a sports management division that represents a number of active NBA players. His involvement in the sports agent business would violate league policy, which led to his diminished role in the effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
The last-minute changes to the Sacramento group’s effort have raised questions among skeptics about the legitimacy of their bid. The mayor once again contended today that it isn’t an issue and said the league offered their approval of Friedman’s addition with “two thumbs up”.
Burkle’s diminishing role and Friedman’s addition is not the first time changes have been made to the proposed ownership structure. Within the last two-and-a-half weeks, Ranadivé has taken the lead on the private side while also recruiting the Jacobs family of Qualcomm to jump into the mix.
“The money wasn’t the interest, but it’s really trying to find the right roles,” Johnson said. “And now that Ron has to shift his role a little bit, he’s still part of this equation. And we’re all trying to figure out how to do it in a really powerful way.”
Johnson and Friedman both say that they’ve been talking about the developer’s potential involvement since early January. Friedman characterized his discussions as advisory, sharing his input on several areas of interest to the ownership group.
“I offered my opinions about what I thought the economic development impact would be here, which sites for the arena I thought would be best,” Friedman said. “And as those conversations unfolded and the deal began to come together, I began to really fully appreciate the extraordinary impact that this transaction and this project is gonna have on the region.”