Ron Burkle has been a long topic of discussion in Sacramento since he was name-dropped by Mayor Kevin Johnson to the NBA as a potential suitor to purchase the Kings in 2011.
Last week, Mayor Johnson made it official as he announced that Burkle and fellow billionaire Mark Mastrov are willing to partner to purchase the team from the Maloofs and build a new arena at the Downtown Plaza site. Mastrov will be the lead on the purchase of the team, while Burkle will head up the effort to build the arena.
This isn’t the first time Burkle has stepped out of the shadows to try to save a professional franchise. In 1999, he helped Mario Lemieux assume control of the Pittsburgh Penguins and pull the struggling franchise out of financial ruin. Not only did he help financially with the team, he also negotiated the deal for the team’s CONSOL Energy Center, which opened in 2010.
I spoke to Mark Belko, a business reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who has covered the dealings of the Penguins and Burkle extensively. Belko has written some fantastic pieces on Burkle and was kind enough to share some insight into the billionaire’s history in Pittsburgh. There are some interesting parallels between what he has done in Pittsburgh and what he is trying to do in Sacramento.
To read what Belko has to say about Burkle, including what he thinks about the situation Sacramento is in, visit Bleed Black and Purple.