In a press conference Tuesday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson revealed 19 members of a local ownership preparing to make an offer to buy the Kings and keep them in town.
The mayor told the crowd that when he started his quest for a local ownership group last week, his goal was to find three to five people to put up $1 million each.
“In three days, we got 19 people to come in at a million dollars,” Johnson said, getting a response of cheers.
Among those 19 are Larry Kelley, Phil Oates, David Taylor and Kevin Nagle, all of whom spoke at Tuesday’s announcement. Two of the 19 chose to remain anonymous.
“I wanted to be involved with something that identified Sacramento,” Kelley said.
The mayor is expected to name a major equity partner by the end of the week.
“Come April, or before, we’re going to submit a fair a competitive offer to keep the Kings,” Johnson said.
A Seattle ownership group led by business magnate Chris Hansen has offered the Maloof family $525 million for the team. Their goal is to have the Sonics play in Seattle once more. If the Kings do move, they will likely play in Key Arena for a season or two before moving into an entirely new arena in Seattle.
“I wish them well, but I wish they’d sell to us and I think they will,” Taylor told the crowd, referring to the Maloofs.
Before making his announcement, Johnson laid out his four-point plan to keep the Kings in Sacramento. He likened it to the close call San Francisco Giants fans experienced when the team nearly moved to Tampa, Fla. in 1992.
Johnson explained keeping the Kings is about local ownership.
“The Kings are a civic asset for the whole community, not just the City of Sacramento,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said that he doesn’t want owners that “fly in and fly out.” He also stressed that if the Kings stay, they must play in a new downtown arena. Developer AEG has said that they’re still interested in the downtown sports and entertainment complex.
“The odds are against us, but they’re been against us before,” said Kings fan Nate Hughart.
Barely two hours after his press conference, Johnson tweeted about landing a 20th person to put up $1 million.
Ian McDonald and Andria Borba filed this report.