Fight for Kings in Sacramento gets political
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The push to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle has officially become political. And the gloves, as was expected, have come off in this seemingly-unfair fight.
In a letter intended for California Department of General Services director Fred Klass that was distributed to USA TODAY Sports and a select few other media outlets, California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg raises questions and concerns about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s involvement in the proposed purchase of the Kings while lobbing veiled threats all along the way. Ballmer is part of the Seattle-based group that has reached an agreement with the Maloof family that owns the team to buy a majority interest for approximately $341 million (based on a $525 million total valuation of the franchise).
With a net worth that is reportedly $15.7 billion and the recent revelation that he appears to be all in when it comes to bringing the Sonics back to Seattle, Ballmer finds himself in these political crosshairs because of his extensive business dealings in California and, specifically, the epicenter of the technology industry: Silicon Valley in Northern California.
Steinberg, a former Sacramento City Council member who has no shortage of influence in California’s Capitol, has shown a willingness to fight to keep the Kings before: When they were on the verge of moving to Anaheim in April of 2011, Steinberg threatened to introduce legislation that would force a team’s owners to pay off all outstanding debt to the city in which it plays before signing a lease in another California city. The Maloofs inherited a $77 million loan (including a prepayment penalty) from the city of Sacramento that must be repaid if the team leaves.
Steinberg is hardly the only Sacramento-based politician attempting to keep the Kings in Sacramento, as Mayor, former NBA point guard and Sacramento native Kevin Johnson is moving forward with his plans to produce a counter-offer to the Seattle group that he is expected to eventually present to the NBA’s Board of Governors.
Here’s the letter from Steinberg:
January 22, 2013
Fred Klass, Director
California Department of General Services