Anderson brokering Kings deal
Darius Anderson, the Sonoma investor, developer and political consultant whose growing presence here includes Ramekins Culinary School, Events & Inn, has been in the thick of an effort to keep the Sacramento Kings NBA team from moving to Anaheim.
Owned by brothers Joe and Gavin Maloof, the Kings have struggled since the years of their NBA heyday and their market value, which peaked at $385 million in 2007, according to Forbes magazine, has fallen to $293 million today. Besides a string of losing seasons, the Kings are in one of the NBA's smallest markets and their stadium, the former ARCO Arena, now called the Power Balance Pavilion, has become a shabby embarrassment by modern NBA standards and is in need of replacement.
The Maloofs have been seeking NBA approval to move the team to Anaheim, which has offered $50 million in subsidies. But Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, doesn't want to see the team leave. He and Anderson were in New York over the weekend meeting with NBA commissioner David Stern to make the case for keeping the team in Sacramento.
In the wings is Ron Burkle, the Southern California billionaire who is a mentor, friend and business partner of Andersons and who has now expressed a solid interest in buying the team from the Maloof brothers, who insist it's not for sale.
Media speculation about what will happen is rampant in Sacramento, where the once-golden Maloofs are increasingly viewed as being financially wounded by the recession, with a major Las Vegas casino investment reportedly in financial trouble.
Burkle, with an estimated net worth of $3.2 billion, would bring substantially more investment power to the Kings than the Maloofs alone can provide.
Anderson, who was once chief fund-raiser for former Gov. Gray Davis and has been a heavyweight political consultant for years, told the Index-Tribune Monday that, "I've had a 25-year relationship with the City of Sacramento. I want to try to do something for the city."
He said negotiations on the King's future are ongoing, but that a crucial corner regarding Burkle's involvement would likely be turned, one way or another, later this week. If a Burkle deal is done, Anderson will likely have some piece of the pie.
Burkle's credibility with sports franchises is currently platinum. He is co-owner of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, which he bought with Mario Lemieux in 1999 when the franchise was on the ropes, near bankruptcy and with a string of losing seasons. In 2007 he brokered a deal for a new $320 million stadium in Pittsburgh which kept the team from moving to Kansas City. In 2009, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
"This would be an exciting development for Sacramento fans," said Anderson of a Kings purchase.