Sacramento mayor: Potential buyer would keep an NBA in town

3:11 AM, Apr 15, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Potential buyer would keep Kings in Sacramento

Video: Billionaire investor wants to buy Kings

Video: Kings case goes before NBA board

  • Burkle Group partner Darius Anderson, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, ICON Venue Group CEO Tim Romani
  • St. Regis Hotel where NBA Board of Governors meets, April 14, 2011.
  • Sacramento Mayor talks to press before speaking to NBA Board of Governors, Paril 14, 2011.
  • Kings fan in New York

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Live tweets from the NBA board meeting

MANHATTAN, NY - In a new development, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson tweeted "New news today is that billionaire Ron Burkle is very interested in buying the Kings and keeping them in Sac."

Burkle Group Partner Darius Anderson joined Johnson in a pitch to the NBA Board of Governors in New York Thursday to keep if not the Kings, then another NBA team in the Capital City.

"We believe if the right opportunity is crafted, you're going to get an ownership group that commits to have the best team on the court and I can commit that if this new ownership group comes to Sacramento, we will have a winning team, no doubt about it," Anderson said following the meeting.

Anderson also issued the following statement:

"We want to thank Mayor Kevin Johnson for his efforts to keep the Kings and the NBA in Sacramento. We were pleased to be a part of his presentation today and we are encouraged by the progress, energy and new resources behind the effort to keep the NBA in Sacramento.

"The Maloofs have been strong owners and a positive part of the Sacramento community for years, 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.

"This group, led by Pittsburgh Penguins owner Ron Burkle, is prepared to assist the Mayor by bringing significant resources and the best possible expertise in professional sports, facilities development and financing to bear in the effort to keep Sacramento as an NBA city.

"The Burkle group, our local partners and other investors are looking forward to working together with the Mayor and other regional leaders to keep the NBA in Sacramento, deliver on a new facility and provide Kings fans in the region with decades more of great memories."

Ron Burkle is described as a supermarket magnate and Democratic fundraiser.

The Maloofs have previously said they were not interested in selling the Kings. Late Thursday afternoon, Troy Hanson, spokesman for the Maloofs, reiterated to News10 sports anchor Bryan May the team was not for sale, regardless of what the mayor said.

"Clearly the stakes are really high," Johnson told reporters after the Sacramento presentation. "I feel really good about the opportunity to speak before the board of governors. I think we laid out a compelling case of why it makes more sense to stay in Sacramento than go to Anaheim."

The mayor said he made three points:

1. Sacramento is a viable market: There's a fan base, it's a top 20 market and there isn't anything competing with the NBA.

2. There's opportunity to increase revenue. There's a corporate base that can be set-up: The city has identified $7 million of corporate sponsorship interest within a week. There is a community campaign underway which had garnered nearly $500,000 in pledges.

3. He was going forward with a new entertainment/sports complex in any scenario.

With Thursday's development, some wonder if the Kings move, would Burkle and the city of Sacramento pursue the New Orlenas Hornets. The NBA owns the franshise and is looking for a buyer.

Also with the Johnson contingent was ICON Venue Group President and CEO Tim Romani. The ICON Group and developer David Taylor are studying the feasibility of an arena for the Sacramento area. 

Romani said he was in attendance to provide an update on the feasibility study.

"We've been working on this for a little over a month," Romani said. "We're planning to deliver our conclusions, our report, well by the end of May. And what we wanted to do today was give the benefit we were able to accomplish over the first month and just give a snapshot of where we stand."

Romani said how to fund a new venue was still to be determined.

Earlier this week, former Kings star Chris Webber said he and others were working to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

The Maloofs are also in New York, meeting with the NBA governors and other owners regarding the Kings' potential relocation to Anaheim. The Maloofs have until Monday, April 18, to formally apply for a move.

There are 30 NBA owners and a majority of owners are all that's needed to approve the relocation.

No franchise has ever been denied permission to relocate in the 27 years David Stern has been NBA commissioner.

Anaheim has representatives in attendance at the New York meetings as well.

News10's Bryan May and Nick Monacelli were at the St. Regis Hotel to follow developments. They provided a running blog of the activities. Times are EDT.

3:16 p.m., Mayor just tweeted he's still waiting.

2:54 p.m., May: Mayor Johnson just began his presentation. Earlier, Johnson said he would stress the viability of the Sacramento market to the owners and remind them of the Kings' success in the city over the last 26 years.

2:48 p.m., May: Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan just walked into hotel.

2:20 p.m., May: Mayor still waiting to give presentation. Maloofs are in mtg.

11:23 a.m., Monacelli: Johnson said, "As an NBA player I got dressed for many games and you're always excited and I played essentially for 12 years for one NBA team. But this morning, I got dressed and I felt like I was playing for the Sacramento Kings. I'm excited to be on that team today."

11:13 a.m., Monacelli at Johnson's news conference: "The next hour or two is going to be very important for the city of Sacramento," Johnson said.

9:45 a.m., May: Maloofs are in St. Regis hotel meeting now finalizing their presentation.

9:11 a.m., May: Mayor Johnson now inside St. Regis Hotel ready to speak to NBA.

News10/KXTV and The Associated Press

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