The NBA's Sacramento Kings have been sold to a group that includes 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, now chairman and co-founder of private equity firm New Evolution Ventures (NEV), Lafayette, CA.
The announcement was made today by Sacramento, CA, Mayor Kevin Johnson. The Maloof family, which owned the basketball franchise, sold the team to the Mastrov group led by software billionaire Vivek Ranadive. Earlier today, Johnson, a former NBA player, said the deal was signed and that "the money has been wired," the Sacramento Bee reported.
According to an ESPN.com report, the Ranadive group agreed to purchase 65 percent of the Kings from the Maloofs for about $348 million. The Kings' total valuation in the sale is an NBA-record $535 million, ESPN reported. The sale still needs NBA approval, which should come in the next few days.
The agreement comes two days after the NBA's Board of Governors voted against the team relocating to Seattle, where a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen had hoped to land the Kings in a proposed deal and move the team to the Northwest.
Mastrov's interest in buying the Kings first surfaced in January. Since then, the saga of whether the Kings would move to Seattle or remain in Sacramento had several twists and turns.
A big win for Mastrov and his group came April 29 when the NBA's relocation committee voted to recommend to the Board of Governors not to approve relocation to Seattle. Earlier this week, the Maloofs announced that it would not sell the Kings to a Sacramento-based group regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's Board of Governors vote, which was 22-8 against relocation. Since the vote, the Maloofs decided against those plans.
Three years ago, Mastrov tried to buy the Golden State Warriors, based out of Oakland, CA, but the team was sold to Joseph Lacob and Peter Guber for $450 million. Ranadive is currently a co-owner of the Warriors but will have to sell his stake in the team.
Mastrov sold 24 Hour Fitness in 2005 to New York-based private equity firm Forstmann Little and Co. for $1.68 billion. He remained as chairman of 24 Hour until he resigned in 2008. In September of 2008, Mastrov and Jim Rowley co-founded NEV, a company that now owns Crunch Fitness, Crunch Franchise clubs, UFC Gym, Madonna's Hard Candy Fitness and Steve Nash Fitness World, among others. Earlier this year, UFC Gym acquired LA Boxing and its 81 franchises.
Nash, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, spoke highly of Mastrov last month in an interview with a website that covers the Kings. Mastrov also has received vocal support from Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal, two former Lakers who had partnerships with Mastrov and their 24 Hour signature clubs.
The Kings' new ownership group includes the San Diego family that founded communications giant Qualcomm and Chris Kelly, a senior executive at Facebook.
In recent weeks, Mastrov has said little publicly about his group's chances of landing the Kings. In a press conference April 3 in New York, after both prospective ownership groups met with NBA Commissioner David Stern, Mastrov described the elements that would make up the ideal basketball organization.
"You have to have a great team top to bottom, from your ownership group to your general manager to your coaching staff to your team to the guys off the bench and then probably your D‑League team," Mastrov said. "I think what you have here is a great team that's been put together top to bottom."