Less than two weeks before the NBA is expected to decide whether the Kings stay in Sacramento, a key investor in the effort has been forced...
SACRAMENTO — Less than two weeks before the NBA is expected to decide whether the Kings stay in Sacramento, a key investor in the effort has been forced into a secondary role.
Beverly Hills billionaire Ron Burkle, a driving force for the past two years in trying to keep the Kings from leaving town, will not invest in the team or the proposed Downtown Plaza arena, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced Monday afternoon.
Facing questions over a conflict of interest, Burkle instead will focus on redeveloping other portions of Downtown Plaza. “He’s so committed to Sacramento,” the mayor said, adding that he spoke with Burkle on Monday. “There’s a host of ancillary development opportunities that Ron will participate in.”
Burkle was going to take the lead in developing the proposed $448 million arena and would have held a small ownership stake in the team. Sacramento officials had said his presence was a huge asset in part because he successfully developed a new arena three years ago for his hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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Johnson insisted Burkle’s new role would not deflate the effort to keep the Kings from going to Seattle, and said other investors would pick up the financial slack. He did not give specifics.
“I don’t look at this as a slow-up or a hiccup,” he said. “We won’t miss a beat.”
He said that NBA team owners, who met with the Sacramento investors last week, were comfortable with the shifting arrangement.
With Burkle taking a back seat, software magnate Vivek Ranadive and health-club financier Mark Mastrov “are going to be the lead investors” on the team and arena, the mayor said.
In his news conference, Johnson said he expects the final decision from the NBA on the Seattle/Sacramento saga to come next week when the NBA Board of Governors meets April 18-19 in New York.
After the meeting last week in New York, commissioner David Stern said the decision could take longer. Clarifying the role of Burkle and other investors in Sacramento’s plan could help clear up one issue that might have made the decision take longer.
Times staff reporter Bob Condotta contributed to this article.