Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson announced Thursday that Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov are indeed the businessmen who have for weeks been considered key investors in the city's attempt to keep the Kings franchise in California's capital. In the State of the City speech, Johnson finally completed the major step toward convincing the NBA Board of Governors to vote down the city of Seattle's bid to acquire the franchise. The Mastrov team will submit a bid to keep the Kings in Sacramento to the league and the Maloofs.
The Kings majority owners, the Maloof family, have come to an agreement to sell the team to the Seattle-based ownership group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Burkle, a billionaire and grocery business owner, and Mastrov, owner of 24 Hour Fitness, have been the so-called "whales" that Johnson and the city need to fund their project. Johnson has already garnered support from other minority investors in the city.
"Mark is ready to build a winner. He wants to buy this team for one reason, and one reason only: to win a championship in Sacramento," Mayor Johnson said.
Meanwhile, news arose earlier this week that a third party could be involved in working out a deal should the Seattle move fall through. Current minority owner John Kehriotis has reportedly put together an offer to buy the Kings, according to the Sacramento Bee, but he would need even more support since the city is behind Johnson's cause.
Now, Johnson's group must put together a financial plan for the franchise moving forward in order to convince the NBA that the team is worth keeping in Sacramento. David Stern has said the league will hold a mid-April meeting to decide upon the franchise's future.
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