City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 5, 2013
Kings investors still not revealed, but mayor remains confident

Mayor Kevin Johnson still isn't ready to reveal the identities of the rich investors he's assembled to make a bid to buy the Kings. And despite going past his self-imposed time frame for that announcement, he doesn't sound too worried.

Johnson told reporters today the investors are "doing their due diligence and working very hard" to come to terms on a bid for the Kings. An announcement could come later this week or next week.

The mayor plans to package that bid with an arena plan as a counter-pitch to the deal the franchise's owners have made to sell the Kings to a group in Seattle. Johnson wants that plan solidified by the end of the month at the latest. The NBA will ultimately decide whether to support Johnson's proposal or approve the Seattle deal.

It isn't a big secret who Johnson favors. As The Bee has reported for two weeks, billionaire Ron Burkle and 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov are in serious talks over partnering on a bid. Burkle has also advocated directly to NBA Commissioner David Stern for the construction of an arena at Downtown Plaza.

"I think we're really close," the mayor said. "(Not having an announcement yet) is not a negative by any means. This is a complex deal."

Meanwhile, the blog NBC ProBasketballTalk obtained excerpts of a partnership agreement that seemed to support the contention - first raised two weeks ago by the bankruptcy trustee who controls minority owner Bob Cook's 7 percent share - that limited partners might have the right to match the Seattle group's purchase offer.

The document's excerpts might not prove the limited partners' claim but could make the NBA think twice about letting the Seattle deal go through, Michael McCann, a sports-law expert at the University of New Hampshire who reviewed the excerpts, told The Bee's Dale Kasler.

"The more complicated and less certain this becomes, the more the NBA will have concerns," he said.

The bankruptcy trustee is auctioning Cook's share later this spring. If he can prove his claim that limited partners have the right to match the Seattle offer, then the 7 percent share becomes considerably more valuable. The trustee, David Flemmer, is negotiating with the Maloofs to secure access to confidential documents relating to the Seattle deal.

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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 rlillis@sacbee.com

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