More Potential Buyer Speculation for Sacramento Kings
The latest twist in the Sacramento Kings saga revolves around yacht racer and software billionaire Larry Ellison. The Sacramento Bee reports Ellison may be competing with a group that wants to buy the city's National Basketball Association franchise and move it to Seattle.
Tony Bizjak, one of three Sacramento Bee reporters following the story, says the paper's been told Ellison will meet with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson soon.
"We know that he has been interested in buying an NBA team," Bizjak says, "because he put in a bid on the Golden State Warriors two years ago, and didn't get it, although he offered a lot of money. We don't know at what level his interest is -- he may just be asking a few questions about it, or he may be ready to jump in."
And USA Today reports that another prospective buyer, Ron Burkle, an LA-based billionaire who is part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey club, met with NBA Commissioner David Stern on Thursday.
The Kings' current majority owners, the Maloof family, announced January 21 they'd made a deal with the Seattle group. But since then, Mayor Johnson has been trying to put together a matching bid from investors who'd keep the team in Sacramento, and he says the NBA's promised to hear him out before taking action.
Another possible stumbling block for the Seattle plan: several minority shareholders, who, according to some who've seen the partnership agreement, may have the right to buy the Maloofs out before any other bidders.
Kings fans have gone through this kind of angst before. The team nearly moved to Anaheim two years ago; then a plan to build a new Sacramento arena collapsed when the Maloofs pulled out. And just a few weeks ago, there were reports the Kings would relocate to Virginia Beach, VA. Tony Bizjak says the uncertainty is harming a famously loyal fanbase.
"They sold out the arena here in 18 of the 25 years that we've had the team," Bizjak says. "But now there are fewer and fewer fans in the arena, and some of it is people just so disappointed in the Maloofs, and the feeling that the team is pretty much out the door."