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Report: Billionaire who wants to keep Kings in Sacramento met with Stern

Jan 25, 2013, 6:10 PM EDT

Clippers Kings Basketball AP

If you learned one thing from the time the Maloof family tried to move the Kings to Anaheim it should have been this — Sacramento fans, led by mayor Kevin Johnson, will not give up without a fight.

While the Maloof family has reached an agreement to Sacramento Kings to a group headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — a group that intends to move the team to Seattle for next season — Johnson and team are working on a counter proposal.

One that includes Los Angeles based billionaire Ron Burkle, who flew out to New York to meet with David Stern this week, reports Sam Amick at USA Today.

Los Angeles-based billionaire and prospective owner of the Sacramento Kings, Ron Burkle, met with NBA Commissioner David Stern on Thursday in New York City, according to two people with knowledge of the situation…

Burkle — the supermarket mogul who is part owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins — has been planning to make a competing bid with fellow money man Mark Mastrov, the Northern California-based founder of 24-Hour Fitness, in an attempt to convince the NBA to keep the team in Sacramento. The goal all along from the Sacramento side has been to force the NBA into a tough decision by putting together an arena plan and a bid that’s competitive with the Hansen-Ballmer group.

The question is simple: Even if Johnson puts together a group with the money and a viable plan, the question is will that be enough? If they do get it together, it would certainly make approval of the sale more awkward for the Board of Governors, but the board can choose what it wants.

If you’re asking why the Maloofs don’t just sell to Burkle, there is some animosity there. Burkle stepped forward saying he would buy the team and keep them in Sacramento when the Anaheim deal was proposed, and that angered the Maloofs. They don’t want him to get the team.

Any sale of a team must be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors (made up of the owners or their appointed representative). That body meets in April in New York and Johnson is expected to make his pitch there.

But it will not be easy. He’s going to have to convince those owners (who may want to sell their team some day and don’t want a lot of precedent set) that Sacramento has an offer that is better for the league long term. While Sacramento is the nation’s 20th largest television market, Seattle is 14th. While Sacramento is pulling together an arena deal, Seattle’s is financed, through most approvals and on to environmental review (but certainly not done). Several owners — and reportedly David Stern — see leaving Seattle as a mistake they want to correct. Plus each owner would each get part of any relocation fee straight into their pockets — it was $30 million for the Sonics move to Oklahoma City, which is a little more than $1 million a team.

The Hansen/Ballmer group has worked hard to present an air of inevitability around this sale, to make it seem done and done. Smart move by them.

But it’s not done.

Sacramento certainly has its work cut out for it. But pulling out of Sacramento when city officials worked to keep the team, had quality new owners lined up plus an arena deal moving forward would be an ugly black eye for the league as well. The league says it wants communities and cities to work with them, that is what Sacramento has done only to be thwarted by the Maloofs. It also has been reported the Maloofs minority owners have a “first right of refusal” clause to buy the team if it went up for sale, something they could use to muck up the planned sale to Hansen/Ballmer.

It’s messy. But politics and business is now and always has been messy (go see “Lincoln”). However uphill the battle may seem, the people of Sacramento are not going down without a fight, they are not just letting their team waltz out of town.

  1. bigsuede - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    It makes more sense for the NBA to keep the kings in sac- as long as Seattle is out there- there will be leverage for other owners to get financing from their home city. I think that is worth more than a million dollars to each team.]

    Further- the difference between the 16th market and the 20th is VERY small. There are many other teams in the NBA who are worse off than the kings and would be better prospects to move to Seattle.

    It is hilarious how the Maloofs just want to do a spite sale-

    • jrd8523 - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      The difference between the two markets becomes even smaller when you consider that Seattle has ticket and viewer competition from NFL, MLB, and MLS… Sacramento is all NBA. You’re biggest competition are the non-televised, non-major league RiverCats.

      • toewsingkaner - Jan 26, 2013 at 8:29 PM

        Seattle has a metro area which is more populated by 1.4 million residents (3.5m vs. 2.1m), has a per-capita income of approximately $6,500 higher in a year, and a median adjusted income of approximately $14,000 higher then Sacramento. During the winter months there would be little competition for the Seattle sports fan dollar as the Mariners play mainly in the summer and the Seahawks in the fall. To summarize, there are more people with more money with little competition for that money in a sport that has historically done well in the Seattle area. Your argument doesn’t hold water.

  2. gls24 - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    I am not sure what the contract for the sale of the team between the Maloofs and the Seattle group states . . . but it is a contract for the sale of the team. What more needs to be said?

    I just wish Mayor KJ would put as much effort into other “real” issues facing our city as he has with the Kings retention situation.

  3. packfaninca - Jan 25, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    According to gls24, the potential loss of billions of dollars in future revenue the Kings and a new arena/ entertainment center would bring to Sacramento over the next 10+ years isn’t a “real” issue facing the city.

    Also, the NBA BOG has to sign off on the contract before it is binding (which is stated in the article above). That’s what needs to be said.


  4. smcgaels1997 - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Keeping the Kings is a serious issue. Loss of jobs lost plus jobs lost that would be to build the previously agreed upon arena. He’d have time to do more for Sac if the Maloofs haven taken 2 years to drag this out

  5. mashoaf - Jan 25, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    King Stern did the same thing to the Sonics when they moved. (They had an arena financed in South Seattle) He is always looking for a quick buck!

  6. mnwildfan15 - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:09 PM

    I think it’s about time to end the Canadian experiment. bad team in a hockey city

  7. kinggw - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    I understand why the Sacramento faithful are fighting the good fight, but the NBA needs to put a team back in Seattle. Does there really need to be 4 teams in California anyway?

  8. harper2 - Jan 25, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    What did you think we were going to do, just sit back and watch them take OUR team?

    • toewsingkaner - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      YOUR team? I wonder if this is what Kansas City Kings fans thought back in the mid 1980’s?

  9. phillyphannn83 - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    FYI kinggw, look at a map. If you put Californian the East Coast, it would envelope an area that includes the Celtics, Knicks, Nets, 76ers, Wizards, and Bobcats. 6 to 4. Cali is only 1 state, but its a big state. There’s more of a problem with the Maloofs trying to be the 3rd NBA team in LA. Now THAT is unreasonable.

  10. daddyghi - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:44 AM

    why just try to buy the team now when the sale to Seattle is almost a done deal? it should have been done years back if they really want to buy the franchise.

  11. bert1913 - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    if seattle did half of what sac is doing, they necer would have left.

  12. nomorsacbball - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    to daddyghi. the magoofs weren’t selling the team before. they were still trying to own the team and move them Anaheim. I love people commenting on something they know very little about. and to the bozo saying why does Cali need four teams? this is a huge state that is spread out unlike east coast states. if anything move one of the la teams to Seattle.

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 26, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      To be correct, they were selling a portion of the team to the man that owns the arena in Anaheim (and the Ducks) with that guy having the right to buy more under specific circumstances. But the Maloofs would have had majority control.

  13. srgpsycho - Jan 26, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Why should this franchise stay in Sac. or move back to Sea.? Seattle dumped on their franchise so why do they get a 2nd chance? Sacramento hasn’t had decent attendance for quite a while so why stay there? Go to somewhere where the public rewards the franchise & as I see it these two cities haven’t for quite some time. Having the public sell out Arco thinking that this will convince management to stay? If they sell out the rest of the season maybe but to me reality is let’s see what the attendance is come the next home game.

  14. liddogg33 - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Well the last comment by “pyscho” (name says it all) was just about as STUPID A COMMENT AS I HAVE EVER SEEN POSTED. Truth is wether Kevin Johnson or the city of Sacramento wants to admit it the Sacramento kings have been SOLD!! PERIOD END OF STORY. Trust me when I say that when clay Bennett bought the sonics the city of seattle held rally’s and protests and we all thought Balmer would swoop on and save the day. Well guess what??? THAT NEVE HAPPENED!!!! Burke is simply now trying to save face. Hansen and Balmer have a purchase and sale AGREEMENT. MEANING THEY HAVE A RECEIPT. MEANING THEY ARE THE MAJORITY OWNERS. MEANING THAT THE KNLY THING THE NBA BOARD HAS TO APPROVE IS THE MOVE TO A BIGGER AND BRIGHTER CITY!!! Truth is all that’s happening now is a side show. Next year the Seattle Supersonics will be playing in key arena while their palace is being constructed and kevin Johnson and the Sacramento fans will have to face what we had to face 5 years ago which will be their team playing for another city. The longer it takes for all of you to realize the reality if this situation the harder it’s going to be. Trust me. Take it from someone who has lived through this. It’s game over and the kings belong to seattle. I wish everything could go back to normal but it just can’t and its Howard Shultz and mr Malloofs fault. END OF STORY

    • jrd8523 - Jan 26, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      Hate to break it to you, but until the NBA board approves the sale there is no sale. The sale agreement doesn’t mean a thing until the NBA board approves it, the CBA is abundantly clear on that. An unapproved sale is just that. Typing in caps and asserting that the reader should “trust me” is cute, but it doesn’t mean your logic on why the sale is complete “MEANING THEY HAVE A RECEIPT!” overrules the CBA in which the NBA operates.

      The Kings are very likely headed to Seattle but your rant on how it’s over and done because the Maloofs and Schultz agreed to terms is taking a complicated situation and dumbing it down so it’s blatantly stupid.

      • liddogg33 - Jan 26, 2013 at 7:15 PM

        well lets see how stupid it becomes.. i remember thinking when clay bought the sonics how it would never happen.. Well i have news for you moron.. The nba board would never block the sale and move considering one day they might want to sell and move. Say all you want.. Toss as many insults as you think you can… Truth is the sale is OVER!!! BOOK IT CLOWN!!!!

      • liddogg33 - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:31 AM

        Btw mr educated. The agreement is between the Malloofs and Chris Hansen and mr Balmer. Howard Shultz sold the original sonics to clay Bennett. And just like when clay Bennett reached an AGREEMENT with mr Shultz and he took the sonics to okc mr Hansen will be bringing the kings to seattle. I’m not saying its fair just that its going to happen!!

  15. mazblast - Jan 26, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Try this scenario–

    1. Mastrov makes a bid without Burkle. Maloofs see a way to get just as much money as the Hansen/Ballmer bid and with far less negative publicity. They accept the bid. The Board of Governors quickly ratifies it.
    2. As part of the bid, the Maloofs are completely out. “You got your money, go piss it away like you did the rest of the old man’s empire”.
    3. Mastrov turns around and sells the biggest piece to Burkle. The Board of Governors quickly approves the deal.

    Result? Maloofs get their money and are completely out, Sacramento keeps its team, Burkle gets majority ownership, Mastrov gets a piece of the action, Stern pretends to be the hero. Seattle still wouldn’t have a team, but Stern will find a way to remedy that, probably at another city’s expense (Toronto?).

  16. rollteal - Jan 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Go Sacramento keep fighting for your keep fighting for your team and show your civic pride.
    Both Seattle & Sacramento were wrong in this by the NBA.

  17. drago2012 - Jan 26, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Who cares about this franchise and these two cities? Not too many people. Both of these cities are a small market teams in the first place. DAAAA BUUUUUULLLLSSSSS!!!!

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