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Sacramento mayor announces city's group to buy Kings

The SportsXchange

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said Thursday night that 24-hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov will lead a group which will attempt to purchase the Sacramento Kings.

Speaking at his State of the City event, Johnson also said billionaire Ron Burkle, who also owns the Pittsburgh Penguins, will work with owners of the Downtown Plaza to transform the downtown mall into a new arena.

The Maloof family, which owns the Kings, has an agreement in place to sell the team to a group that will move the team to Seattle and rename it. Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, however, has said a counteroffer to keep the team in Sacramento is being put together. This week the Maloofs acknowledged they would take back-up offers.

"Many across the country have counted us out. And I know we are still very much in this game," said the former All-Star guard. "I hope Seattle gets a team someday. Let me be perfectly crystal clear, it is not going to be this team. Not our team. No way."

Johnson said Mastrov will deliver his bid to the NBA on Friday. He said the group has agreed to also bring back the defunct Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA.

"This is about building a winning franchise for a winning community. Sacramento has proven time and again to be a great NBA market," Mastrov said. "As a longtime resident of Northern California with deep ties to Sacramento, I am thrilled to be a part of an effort to do something special for this region."

Besides Mastrov, the ownership group will include 21 local investors who have put up at least $1 million to buy 7 percent of the team that is in bankruptcy court. The group also includes former Kings star Mitch Richmond, whose number is retired by the team.

Also, Johnson said businesses have pledged $50 million in sponsorships during the next five years.

"Don't tell me we don't have a strong corporate community," said Johnson, who did not offer any details on how much Mastrov's group, is bidding. The Seattle group reportedly has an agreement for $341 million to buy the 65 percent of the Kings.

The decision ultimately will come down to the NBA Board of Governors, who vote in April on a recommendation from the combined finance and relocation committees.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has encouraged Johnson to put together a competing bid. Johnson said he will attend the NBA's spring meetings on April 18 when the fate of the team is expected to be decided.

"As a city we have done everything the NBA has ever asked of us," he said.
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