Ron Burkle & Mark Mastrov Announced As “Whales” Hoping To Keep Kings In Sacramento


March 16, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Former Sacramento Kings player and current Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson (center) watches the game during the second quarter against the Boston Celtics at Power Balance Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Although Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov have been long rumored to be the mega-whales behind the plan to keep the Kings in Sacramento, they were never formally announced – until tonight. In front of a solid crowd at the Memorial Auditorium chanting “SAC-RA-MEN-TO”, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced the two billionaires as the large equity partners in his bid to retain the Kings during tonight’s State of the City address.

Mastrov, who was the founder and former CEO of 24-Hour Fitness joined Ron Burkle, who made his money in numerous companies though is most famous for his grocery store chains, as the two major financial entities in the plan to keep the Kings local.

Burkle is no stranger to professional sports as he’s part owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and ironically enough, saved the franchise from potential relocation and was an intricate part in helping the Penguins secure a deal for a new arena. Burkle has also been heavily linked to AEG, owner and operator of many NBA/NHL arenas (and undoubtedly, a company who would help build a Sacramento arena) as well as other entertainment and sport companies. Mastrov on the other hand hasn’t dipped his feet into the professional sporting scene nearly as deep as Burkle (made an attempt to buy the Golden State Warriors, has heavy interest/investment in UFC), though, his enthusiasm and hefty pockets will be a welcome addition to the assembled team of investors.

Other important notes from the presser:

  • Mayor wants private/public partnership.
  • Guarantees city will be protected on their $70 million dollar loan.
  • Expects long term commitment from team.
  • Wants arena downtown and will work to make sure Natomas site will be used properly.
  • Over 20 investors who’ve committed over $1 million each to ensure a strong local presence in team ownership. Currently working to have those investors buy the 7% stake of ownership currently held in bankruptcy case. Cited former Sacramento Kings great Mitch Richmond as investor.
  • Cited Mastrov as the equity buyer for the team, Burkle as equity buyer for arena.
  • Downtown plaza would be home of new arena. Burkle will partner with JMA and Todd Chapman, owners of Downtown Plaza, to develop said arena – railyards no longer an option.
  • Announced that corporate community has pledged $50 million annually for the first five seasons in new arena.
  • WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs to be brought back under new ownership to play in new arena.
  • Cites seven billion dollars of economic impact over the next 20 years with downtown arena, three million new visitors annually as well as $160 million annually.

Mayor Johnson finished his evening by stating that a “very strong” and “competitive” bid would be submitted to the Maloof family as well as the NBA tomorrow, who Johnson says will give him “full consideration” per David Stern.