Things are heating up in the fight to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
Sam Amick reports that according to two people, Ron Burkle met with NBA Commissioner David Stern on Thursday in New York City. Mayor Johnson facilitated the meeting. The Bee reports that the meeting was about "the future position of Sacramento as an NBA city", according to a source.
Burkle has expressed interest in buying the Kings ever since they first threatened to relocate to Anaheim back in 2011. Amick had previously reported that Burkle was in serious talks to collaborate with 24 Hour Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov on a bid for the Kings. Burkle also is a part owner of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins.
This meeting between Burkle and Stern is seen by the city as another sign that their effort to keep the team in Sacramento is legitimate, writes Amick. Stern has been in close communication with Mayor Johnson throughout this process and has granted him the opportunity to make a case for Sacramento before the Board of Governors in April.
Burkle has reportedly been very interested in a new arena at the Downtown Plaza. Ryan Lillis of the Bee confirms that Burkle has advocated for the site. Any plan involving him as the large equity partner would likely focus on the Downtown Plaza and not the railyards. Plans have already been drawn up for the Downtown Plaza by JMA Ventures, current owners of the site. It's unknown how much of the old arena plan at the railyards would factor into a new deal, although the city will likely still look for its contribution to be some form of parking monetization. Johnson has indicated that the City Council will strongly back an arena plan, and from listening to Ryan Lillis on the Grant Napear show yesterday, Lillis said he has heard that any vote on a plan if it gets that far would likely be anywhere from 7-2, 8-1 or 9-0.
UPDATE 4:08 PM: