Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today he plans to introduce legislation this week to force the owners of the Sacramento Kings to repay a $77 million loan from the city if they decide to move the team to Anaheim.
The Sacramento Democrat told radio station KFBK (1530 AM) that the measure would state that "no California city can sign a lease with a professional franchise unless that franchise has paid off its existing debt to another city."
"Some might think that has something to do with our Sacramento Kings. It might, but the policy is really what is important to me," Steinberg said in an on-air interview. "California, we're one state. We shouldn't have one city picking off another."
Steinberg acknowledged that the decision to move the Kings boils down to a private business agreement, but said "when there's public money at stake like there is in Sacramento, I think it's proper to say, 'Let's have the debt paid off.' "
The Maloof family, which owns the team, has until April 18 to ask the National Basketball Association board of governors for permission to move the team. The city of Anaheim has taken action intended to draw the team, including approving $75 million in bonds for upgrades to the city's Honda Center.
Steinberg's bill is not the only effort to ensure the loan is repaid. One of the Maloof brothers said that they "have no intention of leaving that town without paying our debt," and the city of Sacramento has asked them to put their assurances in writing.
"They're making a cold business decision -- the city has its right to protect its bottom line," Steinberg said. "This is no sentimentality here."
Listen to the full interview at this link.
PHOTO CREDIT: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Nov. 13, 2009. Michael Allen Jones/ Sacramento Bee file photo