City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

January 31, 2013
City Hall analyzing potential arena at Downtown Plaza

In another indication of how seriously City Hall is taking the prospect of an arena at Downtown Plaza, City Manager John Shirey's office has launched a feasibility analysis of the site.

That analysis will examine the different locations at the Downtown Plaza site where an arena could fit, an arena's impact on utilities and the transportation infrastructure near the site. JMA Ventures, the firm that bought the mall last year, conducted its own feasibility study of placing an arena at the mall.

Billionaire Ron Burkle - who along with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov is discussing a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings - has advocated directly to NBA Commissioner David Stern for building an arena at Downtown Plaza.

January 28, 2013
Fitness magnate Mastrov meets with local Kings investors

In an indication of how seriously he is considering buying the Kings, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov was in Sacramento this morning meeting with the local business leaders who have committed $1 million each toward purchasing the team.

Mastrov, who reportedly made an unsuccessful bid of $350 million to buy the Golden State Warriors in 2010, is in serious discussions with billionaire Ron Burkle on teaming up on a bid to purchase the Kings and keep them in Sacramento. The pair has also discussed partnering on a plan to help build a new downtown sports arena, most likely at the site of the Downtown Plaza, sources have told The Bee.

Burkle met with Mayor Kevin Johnson last week and was in New York on Thursday, when he met with NBA Commissioner David Stern. During that meeting with Stern, Burkle expressed his interest in buying the Kings and advocated for building an arena at the Downtown Plaza site - not the downtown railyard, which had been the preferred site of city officials.

January 23, 2013
Mayor doesn't reveal 'whale,' but says talks with potential Kings ownership group moving quickly

Mayor Kevin Johnson isn't quite ready to reveal the identity of the whales.

Johnson told reporters this afternoon that he had "made considerable progress with discussions with major ownership groups" that would make a pitch to buy the Sacramento Kings and block a deal that would move the team to Seattle. The mayor has referred to those deep-pocketed investors as "whales."

A source told The Bee on Tuesday that billionaire grocery tycoon Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to partner on a bid for the Kings and align themselves with the city of Sacramento on a plan to help finance a new downtown sports arena.

January 22, 2013
Billionaire Burkle, fitness tycoon Mastrov discussing Kings purchase

Billionaire Ron Burkle and Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to team up on a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and partner with the city of Sacramento on a plan to help finance a new downtown sports arena, The Bee has learned.

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.

Burkle, who owns the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, has been mentioned by both Mayor Kevin Johnson and NBA Commissioner David Stern as a potential suitor of the Kings. Mastrov, the founder of the 24 Hour Fitness chain, made an unsuccessful bid to buy the Golden State Warriors in 2010 and until now had been the only person to publicly express interest in buying the Kings and keeping them here.

January 22, 2013
List: Investors to give $1 million each to buy Sacramento Kings

The list of 20 local Sacramento Kings investors unveiled by Mayor Kevin Johnson at City Hall. Each has agreed to contribute $1 million.

Dr. Nate Allen, surgeon at Mercy and Sutter

Steve Ayers, principal of Elks Tower and Rail Bridge Cellars Winery

Dale Carlsen and Katy Carlsen, chief executive of Sleep Train Mattress Centers, the current arena naming rights sponsor; and area pediatrician

Dorene Dominguez, chair of Vanir Group construction and development company

Michael and Ken Fahn, real estate investors and concert promoters

Brad Jenkins, president of 01 Communications telecommunications

Larry Kelley, developer and former minority owner in the Kings in the 1990s

Rob Miller, chief executive of PeopleFinders online business

Kevin Nagle, co-owner of Town Center in El Dorado Hills

Phil Oates, chairman of commercial real estate firm Buzz Oates Group of Cos.

Mark Otero, video game entrepreneur and co-founder of KlickNation

Scott Powell, president of Sacramento Jet Center general aviation business

Dr. Aaron Reeves, dentist with Kid's Care Dental

John Stone, tech entrepreneur in El Dorado Hills

David Taylor, Sacramento developer who worked on arena plan that collapsed in April

Angelo K. Tsakopoulos and his son Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, major land developers in Sacramento

Ali Youssefi, vice president at CFY Development Inc., developer of apartment buildings

• Two anonymous investors

Source: Mayor's office

January 22, 2013
Mayor assembles 19 local business leaders in pitch to buy the Kings

Mayor Kevin Johnson this afternoon said he had assembled 19 local business leaders who have each committed $1 million toward purchasing the Kings and keeping the team in Sacramento.

Photo gallery: Johnson's press conference

The group - which includes some of the region's best-known developers and business owners - would partner with at least one deep-pocketed investor to make a counter offer to the deal made by a group seeking to move the Kings to Seattle. Johnson said he is hopeful he will be able to unveil the identity of the ultra-wealthy investor or investors - whom he called "the whales" - by the end of this week.

"We're making progress on the whales," he said.

But Johnson said he wanted to introduce the local investors first, even though their stake will not be nearly enough to buy a team.

"These are folks who realize that the Kings are a civic asset for our community," the mayor said during a boisterous press conference at City Hall, flanked by more than a dozen of those business leaders, throngs of cheering Kings fans and most of the City Council.

January 22, 2013
Mayor to reveal local faces of proposed Kings ownership team

kings_presser_oneA.jpgThe local faces of Mayor Kevin Johnson's pitch to keep the Sacramento Kings in town are expected to be unveiled today.

Johnson will reveal the names of more than 10 local business leaders seeking to be part of a new ownership group for the Kings. Those local owners would partner with a deep-pocketed investor when Johnson presents the team to the NBA as a counter-offer to the Seattle group that has agreed to buy the Kings.

Among the group of local investors seeking to buy a part of the team are developers David Taylor and Phil Oates.

January 17, 2013
NBA Commissioner Stern: Still no Seattle-Kings deal

There's still no deal in Seattle to move the Sacramento Kings to the Pacific Northwest, NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters this morning.

Speaking in London, where the New York Knicks will play the Detroit Pistons today, Stern said "there's been lots of speculation" regarding the possible sale of the Kings to hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen in Seattle.

"The one thing we do know is no purchase and sale agreement has been submitted to (the league)," Stern said.

January 16, 2013
New lawsuit seeks to block Seattle arena plan

A new lawsuit has been filed in Seattle attempting to block construction of an arena that could house the now-Sacramento Kings.

Citing a 2006 voter-approved initiative that requires the city of Seattle to profit from public investments in sports facilities, the lawsuit seeks to block a $200 million city and county subsidy of a planned arena. Hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen is working with Seattle and King County to build the $490 million facility, and Hansen is also in talks to purchase the Kings and move them to the Pacific Northwest.

According to a report in this morning's Seattle Times, the lawsuit charges that the arena plan fails to satisfy Initiative 91 because the funds planned to repay the public investment "represent unsecured future cash revenue or interest repayment that is not allowed under the initiative."

January 15, 2013
Mayor Johnson aims to make counter offer for Kings directly to NBA

With a Seattle group working to acquire the Kings, Mayor Kevin Johnson said this morning that he has received approval from NBA Commissioner David Stern to present a counter offer for the Kings directly to the NBA's board of governors.

Calling a reported $525 million offer for the team that's being floated by a Seattle group "outrageous," the mayor said during the annual State of Downtown address that he has developed a strategy to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

Johnson said he is looking for potential owners who would keep the team in Sacramento to bid against the Seattle offer led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen. A new arena "must be part of the transaction" and the ownership group must include local partners, Johnson said.

January 13, 2013
Fan efforts organizing in attempt to keep Sacramento Kings here

Sacramento Kings fans are stepping up their efforts to save their team.

Led by local radio personality Carmichael Dave - whose real name is Dave Weiglein - some of the fans who have worked the past two years to keep the team in town launched a website this morning asking for other fans to pledge to buy season ticket packages should new local owners for the franchise emerge. The movement, Dave said, is aimed at "proving that this market is not only viable, it is rabid and really has been jerked around by the current ownership situation."

Fans can go to to pledge season ticket purchases. If a new ownership group keeps the team in town and builds a new arena, that list will be given to the Kings' sales staff.

January 8, 2013
Boy raises money to buy ambulance for Sacramento sister city in Israel

A 13-year-old boy will be honored by the City Council tonight for raising money to purchase an ambulance for the city of Ashkelon, Israel - Sacramento's newest sister city.

Robert Leeds, a lad from Los Angeles, asked that guests at his Bar Mitzvah donate money to buy the ambulance in lieu of gifts. The ambulance is a Magen David Adom (MDA) vehicle. The MDA is Israel's Red Cross.

"I realize that in life I have been very blessed," Leeds said in a statement released by Councilman Steve Cohn's office. "This is my Bar Mitzvah statement and the responsibility that I am taking on. It's my hope to show Israel and the city of Ashkelon that I stand with them and that's what becoming a man means to me."

January 7, 2013
NBA star LeBron James to attend St. HOPE fundraiser Friday

NBA star LeBron James will be the special guest Friday night at the annual fundraiser for St. HOPE, the non-profit organization founded by Mayor Kevin Johnson that operates charter schools in Oak Park.

James, a three-time NBA MVP, will be in town as his Miami Heat play the Kings on Saturday.

Johnson, himself a former NBA star, caused a little stir over the weekend when he tweeted that he was looking forward to James' visit and told followers to "stay tuned for a special announcement." A few Kings fans - apparently desperate for any news regarding the progress (or lack thereof) on a new arena - hit the Twitter waves pleading for more information.

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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