Sacramento's "drive to keep the Kings took a dramatic detour Thursday as a new lead investor emerged for the team and the city missed its self-imposed deadline for wrapping up a deal for a new arena," according to a front-page piece by Kasler, Bizjak & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The dual developments "suggested that Sacramento was still laboring to finalize its plan to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle." Warriors Vice Chair Vivek Ranadivé was "unveiled as the man who will lead the bid for the team itself." He "takes the reins from" 24-Hour Fitness co-Founder Mark Mastrov. A source said that Mastrov -- whose "initial bid was described as inadequate by the NBA -- will remain a major partner in the bid." Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle was "continuing to negotiate a deal with city officials on a new arena at Downtown Plaza." But in a "somewhat unsettling development for the city, officials were unable Thursday to complete the so-called term sheet outlining the city's subsidy and other elements of the deal." The item is "scheduled for a City Council vote" on Tuesday. City Manager John Shirey "conceded that if the negotiations aren't wrapped up soon, he might have to postpone the vote until April 2 -- the night before Sacramento is supposed to go before the NBA owners' committee." But while there is "no agreement yet, Shirey revealed some of the likely arrangements with Burkle." To recoup the $9M the city's general fund "normally gets from parking each year, the city would rely on arena ticket surcharges and additional tax revenues generated by the building and surrounding development." The city would own the arena but "plans to lease it to the Kings for 35 years." Shirey added that Burkle is "considering building a hotel nearby." Ranadivé's emergence "appears to fortify the Sacramento bid." He joined the Warriors' ownership in '10 as "part of a group that narrowly outbid Mastrov." A source said, "Mark is the person who brought Vivek in" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 3/22).
STILL WORK TO BE DONE: Shirey said that top city negotiators and reps of Burkle were still talking Thursday about the "financing of an arena at Downtown Plaza and that those talks were expected to continue." He said that the sides "have not reached an impasse." In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis noted Shirey would "not say what sticking points remain between the sides" (SACBEE.com, 3/21). NBA Commissioner David Stern two weeks ago said of the Sacramento offer, "Unless it increases, it doesn't get to the state of consideration." In Seattle, Bob Condotta wrote the Sacramento "hope is Ranadivé's inclusion in the group will solve that issue, though it is thought that the Seattle group would be able to increase its offer" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 3/21).
SURPRISE MOVE: CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger wrote Ranadivé's candidacy could be "boosted by his existing ownership relationships." Also, Ranadivé would be the "first majority NBA owner from India, a market the league is committed to exploring and expanding into the next decade" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/21). Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears said Ranadivé's move is “very, very surprising.” Spears said Ranadivé “just joined the Warriors two years ago and now all of a sudden you’re jumping to get to the Kings." Spears added if this “doesn’t work out, it's going to be odd.” Spears: “It really is different to see an owner that’s already a part-owner of a team decide to go down the street and try to put his money to save another franchise who the Warriors, I think, would love to help them pack their bags.” He added, “This is a strong group, (but) the guys in Seattle have more money. ... I can see the guys in Seattle maybe rising up the price a little bit and it's a mess, man, it's a complete mess because the Maloofs owe the NBA money, owe the city money. This is like ‘Days of Our Lives’ of the NBA” (Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 3/21).