Ron Burkle won't be included in Kings ownership group

Bruce Bennett

Billionaire Ron Burkle, co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has to drop out of a potential Kings ownership group due to conflicts of interest.

Prominent businessman Ron Burkle, who had long been expected to be a large part of the new ownership group trying to keep the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, has been forced to drop out (via the Sacramento Bee) due to various other business investments -- although he's still expected to contribute to the bid to keep the Kings in other ways.

Although he tried to make it work, Burkle -- a billionaire and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins -- won't be able to own the Kings due to his investments in Relativity Sports, a management firm that represents several NBA players. Those investments cause a conflict of interest with owning a franchise, so Burkle, a Pomona, Calif., native, won't be able to fill that role. Instead, he'll contribute to various non-arena development projects in downtown Sacramento, which will help in the city's bid to keep the team.

The members of the ownership group don't see Burkle's departure as a major blow to their chances of keeping the team. It just means fellow investors Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov -- as well as the Jacobs family, founders of Qualcomm, who will take a more significant role per the Sacramento Bee -- will need to chip in more money, something they appear prepared to do. If the group is able to finance the sale, the NBA won't mind that Burkle won't be a part of the ownership group, and his money is still expected to contribute to the overall goal of keeping the team, even if it isn't through direct ownership.

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