Mayor reveals plan to keep Kings in Sacramento

The wealthy investors that are partnering on a plan to keep the

Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle have finally been revealed,

and they’re the two almost everybody expected – with a twist.

Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, will submit a bid to

buy the team to the NBA on Friday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson

said in his State of the City address Thursday night. While Ron

Burkle, the billionaire co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins,

will instead only lead the effort to build a new downtown arena

that he hopes will also lure back a WNBA franchise.

”With all due respect to Seattle, I do hope they get a team

someday. But let me be perfectly clear: it is not going to be this

team,” Johnson said. ”Not our team. No way.”

The Associated Press and other news outlets have reported since

Jan. 22 that Mastrov and Burkle were working on a plan to keep the

Kings from relocating to Seattle.

Burkle, who also expressed interested in buying the Kings two

years ago, had met with NBA Commissioner David Stern at the

league’s New York headquarters in January before deciding to back

out of the bid. Mastrov was among the final bidders for the Golden

State Warriors before Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the team for

an NBA-record $450 million in 2010, and he’s hoping the second time

going solo in Northern California is the charm.

Neither Mastrov nor Burkle were present for Johnson’s speech.

Each released statements through the mayor’s office expressing

excitement but offered no details about the plan.

”This is about building a winning franchise for a winning

community,” Mastrov said. ”Sacramento has proven time and again

to be a great NBA market. As a longtime resident of Northern

California with deep ties to Sacramento, I am thrilled to be a part

of an effort to do something special for this region.”

Burkle added: ”I am excited about the economic possibilities

for the arena and for downtown Sacramento as a whole. We have an

opportunity to transform downtown into a vibrant hub of economic

and cultural activity that will create jobs and generate a positive

economic impact for years to come.”

Now Sacramento vs. Seattle showdown is set.

The Maloof family agreed in January to sell 65 percent of the

franchise for $341 million to a group led by hedge-fund manager

Chris Hansen and Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. The group

already has applied to relocate the team to Seattle next season and

restore the SuperSonics, which left the basketball-loving Pacific

Northwest for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Johnson has been scrambling to organize local ownership for the

Kings ever since.

The NBA Board of Governors is expected to make a decision on the

sale by the end of its meetings in mid-April. Johnson, a two-term

mayor and former NBA All-Star, believes Sacramento is back after

announcing the Mastrov-Burkle plan.

”I’ve been assured by the commissioner of the NBA that we will

be given full consideration,” Johnson said.

Sacramento is hoping to revitalize the city with an arena at the

Downtown Plaza shopping mall owned by JMA Ventures, whose officers

have said they are eager to participate. To show local support for

the Kings, Johnson also lined up 20 local investors who each

committed $1 million. They hope to buy the 7 percent share of the

team now under control of a federal bankruptcy court.

One of those investors is former Sacramento Kings standout Mitch

Richmond, who was a 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame finalist.

”He will undoubtedly bring credibility to our efforts,”

Johnson said.

The mayor also said that Sacramento businesses have committed

$50 million in sponsorships and season-ticket sales for the Kings

over the next five years, which he hopes will be enough to convince

NBA owners.

AP Sports Writer Antonio Gonzalez contributed to this report

from San Francisco.