SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Mayor Kevin Johnson says Sacramento is back in the ballgame after announcing that two investors want to buy the NBA's Kings and build a downtown arena to stop the proposed move of city's only major league sports team to Seattle.
Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, will submit a bid for the team to the NBA on Friday, Johnson said in a speech Thursday night. 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.
"I've been assured by the commissioner of the NBA that we will be given full consideration," said Johnson, Sacramento's two-term mayor and a former NBA All-Star.
It had been rumored for weeks that Mastrov would partner with Ron Burkle, the billionaire co-owner of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins, to buy the team. Instead Johnson said that Burkle will lead the effort to build a new downtown arena that he also hopes will lure back to Sacramento another WNBA franchise.
The city is hoping to revitalize downtown with an arena at the Downtown Plaza shopping mall owned by JMA Ventures, whose officers have said they are eager to participate.
Johnson has been scrambling to organize local ownership for the Kings after the Maloof family announced in January that it had an agreement to sell their 65 percent stake for $341 million to a group led by Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer and hedge fund manager Chris Hansen.
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 star Mitch Richmond, who was a 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame finalist.
"He will undoubtedly bring credibility to our efforts," Johnson said.
The NBA Board of Governors will make a decision on the sale by mid-April.
"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."