Orange County Business Journal

Samueli Raises Stakes in Pursuit of Kings

Chris Casacchia Friday, April 29, 2011

Billionaire Henry Samueli has upped the ante to land the Sacramento Kings and has offered to buy a minority stake in the franchise.

Samueli, cofounder of Irvine-based Broadcom Corp. and owner of the Anaheim Ducks and the company that runs the city-owned Honda Center, has offered to increase a personal loan to the team from $50 million to $75 million and offered to buy a part of the team, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Landing a basketball team has been a big goal of Anaheim and Samueli, who loves hockey but calls basketball his favorite sport.

Samueli also has agreed to pour money into upgrading the Honda Center to bring it in line with other National Basketball Association stadiums around the country. He agreed to pump as much as $70 million into improvements, up from $25 million when details of his proposal went public last month, according to reports.

The move appears to combat efforts by Sacramento mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who convinced league officials a few weeks ago to take a second look at the viability of the Sacramento market.

Earlier this week Johnson announced $10 million in corporate sponsorships if the Kings stay in capital city.

Anaheim’s new offer includes an important caveat: Samueli will float a private loan to cover the deal instead of relying on public bonds.

A decision on a move by the Sacramento Kings to Anaheim has been put off to Monday.

The timetable for the Kings to make the decision was extended from April 18 during meetings in New York earlier this month that were attended by Anaheim officials, including Mayor Tom Tait and Samueli, as well as Johnson and Sacramento lobbyist and developer Darius Anderson, who has close ties to California supermarket tycoon and Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ronald Burkle, a potential white knight in keeping an NBA team in Sacramento.

Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof on Thursday met with Burkle, who is interested in buying the Kings, according to a report on KTXL-TV, the Fox affiliate in Sacramento.

A unnamed private equity firm said it would match any offer made by Samueli to keep the Kings in Sacramento, the station also reported.

A publicly-owned arena plan is in the works that would create a new 25,000-seat stadium with luxury boxes, club seats, a practice facility, 5,000-seat amphitheatre and indoor aquatic center in Sacramento, according to reports.

The plan was devised by a Nevada businessman following the model of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, home to the Packers.

The Maloofs and NBA were given the plan to mull over.

Sacramento’s outdated Arco Arena is a major stumbling block for any NBA team’s finances and without a new arena deal in the works, the city will be hard pressed to keep the Kings or find another franchise to relocate.

Samueli and wife Susan own Anaheim Arena Management LLC, which took over running Honda Center—formerly the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim—in 2003.

Samueli bought the Ducks in 2005 for an estimated $75 million.