Joe Maloof commented on the rumored relocation of the Sacramento Kings for the first time on Monday. Unfortunately, he did so only to express anger at Sacramento city officials, who on Monday sent a letter to Anaheim's city manager, officially requesting that he end negotiations with the Maloof family and withhold a planned $75 million bond issuance until the Kings' franchise owners had repaid their $77 million debt to Sacramento.
Maloof talked to the Orange County Register, expressing outrage that Sacramento would appeal directly to Anaheim.
"It's not for the mayor or anybody (in the City of Sacramento) to interfere with our business. That's what I think they're doing, and it's not right," Maloof told The Orange County Register. "We would appreciate that they not interfere with our business."
There's certainly an element of interference, though the letter is grounded in Sacramento's fear -- valid or not -- that the Maloofs will skip town without repaying a loan made to the team in 1997. If the Maloofs do not repay the loan upon relocation, the agreement calls for Power Balance Pavilion (called ARCO Arena, until recently) to become city property, and for Sacramento to take a $25 million stake in the Kings franchise.
Like most California cities, Sacramento is facing budget deficits and has been forced to consider cuts to public services. That $77 million would be of far greater use than a 23-year-old gym and a small stake in an NBA team playing elsewhere. If city officials fear the Maloofs will make a calculated move to default on the loan, they are right to try to ensure that $77 million is repaid before Anaheim lubricates a new loan in Southern California.