On the eve of a historic and controversial City Council vote, yet another "whale" has joined Sacramento's eleventh-hour push to keep the Kings basketball team in town.
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive, one of the major figures in the local effort to buy the Kings, announced Monday night the group has added a fourth member the Jacobs family of San Diego, founders of Qualcomm, an international high-technology company listed in the Fortune 500.
The trio company CEO Paul Jacobs and brothers Jeff and Hal Jacobs could not be reached for comment. But Ranadive, a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, told The Bee the Jacobs family brings heft and a pan-California persona to what he called the Sacramento "dream" team.
"Each person in this has the capacity to do this on their own," Ranadive said. "This is about building a global brand. It's about putting more wood behind the arrow."
The other members of the bidding group are Ron Burkle, a Los Angeles businessman, and Mark Mastrov of the East Bay, founder of 24 Hour Fitness both of whom visited Sacramento on Monday to pitch their plan to council members and community leaders.
They were joined by project partner Todd Chapman, head of JMA Ventures, which owns Downtown Plaza.
Ranadive, who did not make the trip to Sacramento, said via telephone that he is participating because he wants to do something big for Sacramento and California.
"I believe without a sports team, it is hard for cities to thrive," he said. "I feel humbled to be given the opportunity to partner to keep this great franchise in this great city."
Mayor Kevin Johnson expressed delight in a statement released just after Ranadive's comments.
"Some of the most successful leaders in the state are coming together to do something truly transformational for the capital city," Johnson said. "Their belief in Sacramento speaks volumes about a community that's growing stronger by the day."
The announcement's timing gives the mayor added momentum going into tonight's council vote.
Just three days after officials unveiled an 18-page arena financing "term sheet," the council will decide whether the city should invest $258 million in a public-private partnership to build a $448 million arena at the Downtown Plaza.
The battle lines already are drawn. Johnson said he wants to send a "resounding" message to the National Basketball Association that city officials are solidly behind keeping the Kings.
"I think it should be a 7-2 vote, if I were to guess today," Johnson said, "but that doesn't mean we aren't striving for a 9-0 vote."
One councilman and a watchdog group, however, say the city should not be voting on such a complex financial commitment just three days after it was announced.
"It's not fair to the public not to give them more time to look at this deal," Councilman Steve Hansen said. He has suggested postponing the vote. He declined to say what he will do if there is a vote tonight.
The Eye On Sacramento group sent a letter Monday to City Hall asking for the vote to be put off a few days.
"It would be rash and, indeed, reckless for the city council to rush this to a vote tomorrow," wrote group President Craig Powell.
His letter was countered by one from the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, calling the deal thoughtful.
"From our position as a voice for business, we are especially delighted that (four) nationally successful business people from across California have chosen to invest in the Sacramento region," said Martha Clark Lofgren, chamber board chairman.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, weighed in as well, saying he planned to call a few council members to lobby for a yes vote.
"This is really the culmination of 16 years of back-and-forth struggle" over the future of the Kings, he said. "There is only one correct outcome make this solid agreement happen. Take the next large step to re-create downtown Sacramento."
City officials said the deal could pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the downtown site, including financing for 600 housing units, more offices, new stores and a hotel.
Councilman Steve Cohn met with Burkle and Mastrov in Sacramento, and said the deal is superior to the one he supported last year.
"I feel a lot better having met with them about their commitment," Cohn said. "They feel it's very important to act on it this week so we don't lose momentum."
Councilman Allen Warren said the whales "are committed to Sacramento. They're making a substantial investment, not just in the team, the arena. They understand that's expected of them.
"We're going to see a huge lift in the retail opportunities at the K Street mall area."
Other council members could not be reached for comment.
Chris Thornberg, the economist the Maloof family hired to challenge last year's deal, weighed in at the request of The Bee saying he thinks the deal contains "overly optimistic estimates of the value of the parking sale and backfill revenues."
Thornberg, however, did not have access to several consultant reports the city used for its figures.
City officials, who contend Thornberg wrongly stated their financial assumptions last year, say they took a conservative approach across the board in this deal in estimating ticket, parking and tax revenue.
City Treasurer Russ Fehr said he plans to offer the council a favorable analysis of the city's portion of the deal, which would rely on the city generating $212.5 million in upfront cash by bonding against expected future parking revenue at city facilities.
The risks, he said, are "acceptable, because they are based on the performance of the parking in the middle of a recession. We are basing this on actual performance of the last three or four years."
Call The Bee's Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059. Follow him on Twitter @tonybizjak.