Mayor Kevin Johnson held his State of the City address in Sacramento and had plenty to say about what the city had accomplished to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and what the future holds. After divulging all of the details of the city's plan to keep their franchise, Mayor Johnson revealed that the city would be submitting their bid to the league and the Maloofs as early as Friday.
There were three areas that Johnson specifically addressed throughout the night for Sacramento to grow it's "legacy" going forward: the green sector, education, and their Sacramento Kings. By March 1, the city had pledged to provide a framework in four key areas in order to keep the Kings in Sacramento: local ownership, large equity investors, a re-commitment by the city to partner in building a new arena downtown and a show of strength and viability of their market. "We have all four complete", Mayor Johnson said.
Johnson first revealed that 20 local community leaders had committed one million dollars each to provide invested local interest. In that group, anonymous until the announcement from Mayor Johnson, will be former Kings star Mitch Richmond. With the money raised by the local investors, they will look to buy the seven percent of the Kings that is currently in bankruptcy.
Moving onto the large-equity investors, Johnson announced that 24-Hour Fitness owner Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle-- a billionaire and grocery business owner-- would be the majority bidders. Burkle is also a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Penguins and was a driving force in the construction of their new arena. The Penguins constructed the NHL's first certified green arena, which led Johnson directly to his next point: the new arena.
With Mastrov a driving force in the desire to "win a championship in Sacramento" and saying he is a "die-hard basketball fan," Burkle will serve as an experienced partner in building a new arena. With his prior involvement with the Penguins, and Johnson's city-wide desire to continue the growth of their green sector, the new arena will also push for the high standards achieved in Pittsburgh. Where will the new arena be? At Downtown Plaza, which had been linked as a potential landing spot for a new arena as reported by the Sac Bee in early February.
With three of the four boxes checked off, Mayor Johnson had one more area to hit: strength and viability of the market. The city's "Here we Buy" campaign generated over 5000 pledges to buy season tickets for a new arena, which adds up to over $20 million in revenue, Johnson stated. Even further, the city was also pledged $50 million in corporate sponsorship for the first five seasons in their new arena. "Don't tell me we don't have a strong community," Mayor Johnson said emphatically.
In addition to all of this, Johnson also revealed that the new ownership group intends to bring the WNBA franchise Sacramento Monarchs back to the city to share the proposed new arena at Downtown Plaza with the Kings.
With all four areas covered Johnson concluded with another shocking announcement: the city would be sending their bid to the Maloofs and NBA league office Friday. "I have been assured by the Commissioner of the NBA that we will be given full consideration," Johnson said of the impending bid.
It was a rousing speech and moment for the city of Sacramento, with Johnson stating that the city not only stepped up, but "over-delivered" in the bid they will be making. The city and Mayor Johnson checked off all the four primary boxes they strived to woo the NBA league office with. Will it be enough?
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