SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Keeping the Kings in Sacramento could come down to one unsung hero. It’s a name you haven’t heard a whole lot about, Kings minority owner John Kehriotis.
The developer built and owns the Embassy Suits near the Tower Bridge and owns 12 percent of the NBA team, but his plan to build a new Kings arena will have to bypass Mayor Kevin Johnson and two billionaires — Ron Burkle and Mark Mastrov — which could pit two powerhouses against each other.
As the Kings are on the cusp of leaving for Seattle, Mastrov is negotiating a counter offer that could keep the team in Sacramento with a new downtown arena. But Kehriotis, who likes to keep out of the spotlight, is quietly working on his own bid to buy the Maloofs’ majority shares and build a new arena in Natomas.
“John’s said to me he has an offer he’s going to be making, and I said go for it, John,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said.
A Kehriotis bid could mean renewed life for the Natomas business-owners who have built their livelihoods around the Kings home court.
“The concern right now is just that if the Kings were to leave right now, then Natomas would be left with nothing,” said Danielle Marshall, Natomas Chamber of Commerce.
But, Kehriotis is also bracing for backlash by some Kings fans concerned his bid could be too late; it could blur city hall’s focus on Mastrov and could jeopardize revitalizing downtown.
“I like the transportation opportunities that are downtown that aren’t out at Natomas,” said Lynne Macintosh, Crown Downtown.
A Kehriotis bid could be coming soon; it’s a celebration for some and a beware for others.