Reporting Steve Large
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – As the Sacramento City Council approved open negotiations for a new arena Tuesday, a second potential offer to buy the Kings and build a new privately-funded arena emerged.
Hours before the council’s 7-2 vote to enter into arena negotiations with Mayor Kevin Johnson’s investor group was approved, Kings minority owner John Kehriotis confirmed to Council member Kevin McCarty he lined up a separate group to buy the team.
“I called him to ask if it was true what I heard in the meeting in the last couple days, and essentially, I came away with the conclusion it is in fact [true],” said McCarty.
Kehriotis also confirmed the existence of such a group to CBS13 in a phone interview, but he wouldn’t go into further detail beyond his confirmation. He told McCarty, who in the past has been opposed to public financing plans for a Kings arena, his group is interested in buying the team and building an arena with no public money.
“We all want to keep the Kings here in Sacramento, but the big issue is how much we pay for that; and I think we should consider all offers on the table, including the one that’s recently surfaced,” McCarty said.
Kehriotis’ confirmation comes after weeks of Johnson working behind the scenes to ensure the Kings stay in Sacramento. Recently, the mayor was lobbying NBA owners at the All-Star weekend in Houston to assemble big name investors, reported to be Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov.
The mayor believes his group can win support of the NBA and block the Kings sale to Seattle.
During the city council’s public comments period before the vote, Council member Allen Warren said the city needs to work together with the investors in order to keep the Kings.
“If we’re not at the table, it’s game over,” Council member Allen Warren.
Suddenly there are two plans emerging and limited time for Sacramento to seal a single deal.