Jun 102014

Donald Sterling has reversed course, instead vowing to fight the sale of the LA Clippers to Steve Ballmer.  Yes, we all saw this coming, but that doesn’t make this any less amusing.

“From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers,” he said in the letter. “I believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers, banning me for life from the NBA and imposing the fine. Adam Silver’s conduct in doing so without conducting any real investigation was wrong.

“The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans.”

Different circumstances, entirely, but it will be entertaining to see what goes on in a lawsuit against the NBA (like so many had suggested Hansen should do re: the Kings).  Will LeBron and the Players Association follow through on their threats to boycott ?

May 292014

We’re all in (LA bitches, Seattle can keep their rain clouds)!

Steve Ballmer has had enough time on the sidelines and, now that he’s retired, doesn’t need Hansen as his “the city should have some skin in the game” pauper beard anymore.  $2B to buy the LA Clippers, with a promise not to relocate.

Of course, the Sterlings still have to interject some drama here.  Per ESPN:

 The agreement is going straight to the NBA for final approval and does not require additional approval from banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, according to sources.

The Sterling family trust, which owned the Clippers, had rules and guidelines regarding mental incapacitation, sources told Shelburne and ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell. Very recently, sources said, Donald Sterling was found by experts to be incapacitated. His wife Shelly Sterling then became the sole trustee and had the power to deal directly with Ballmer, according to sources.

If I were to coin a hashtag, I guess Hansen got #Ballmered

Art Thiel’s perpective on all this:

Ballmer was Seattle’s muscle when it came to getting the NBA back to town. He partnered with Seattle native Chris Hansen to seek an arena in SoDo and relocate the Kings from Sacramento, a futile 15-month saga that previously led the Can You Top This? list of implausible sports-business stories.

When Sacramento, led by Kevin Johnson, an ex-NBA star turned Sactown mayor and forever the pet of former commissioner David Stern, found the money and the arena plan one year ago to keep the Kings, it was the beginning of the end for Ballmer’s Seattle ambitions.

May 272014

Ok, so this could all be bluster, but this is absolutely an insane amount of money for an NBA team.  Maybe we all vastly under-estimate how profitable this game is.  Remind me again how Ballmer and Hansen couldn’t pay for their own building ?


From Sterling’s response, it sounds like I need to pick up some popcorn.

On the basis of remarks made in a livingroom during a “lovers’ quarrel,” which were illegally recorded and then disclosed months later in retaliation for a lawsuit by Mr. Sterling’s wife, the NBA seeks to forcibly strip Mr. Sterling and his wife of their ownership interest in the Los Angeles Clippers. The NBA’s use of this illegal recording constitutes a clear and blatant violation of Mr. Sterling’s California constitutional rights. The authors of the charge did not have the courage, decency, or honesty to acknowledge the circumstances surrounding Mr. Sterling’s jealous rant or even that the source of their information was borne from the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” So, in reality, Mr. Sterling is being banned for life, fined $2.5 million, and stripped of his ownership for a purely private conversation with his lover that he did not know was being recorded and that he never intended would see the light of day. We do not believe a court in the United States of America will enforce the draconian penalties imposed on Mr. Sterling in these circumstances, and indeed, we believe that preservation of Mr. Sterling’s constitutional rights requires that these sham proceedings be terminated in Mr. Sterling’s favor. This is particularly true when over its entire history the NBA has never fined anyone as much as $2.5 million, never suspended any owner for life, and never undertaken to confiscate an owner’s team for any offense, much less an alleged offense originating in a conversation in a private setting that was illegally recorded


I Missed My Chance ?

update 5/28  at 7PM PST


Bids are In

update 5/29 at 4 PM

The first round of bids are in, Ballmer may be in the lead.

Sources close to the process believe that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s group currently has the leading bid, however the situation remains fluid as negotiations continue with the two other strong groups and Shelly Sterling works to persuade her husband of 58 years to agree to sell the team.

May 172014

Ace reporter Chris Daniels didn’t want to let Geoff Baker have all the limelight this weekend.  Chris’s contribution is to point out that potential NHL team owner Coleman’s LLCs have bought land in SoDo.

Where, you ask ?

Victor Coleman related LLCs purchased most of that block with the purple plat and the wedge-shaped block where ING and EMC have offices.  Everyone Panic! (j/k)

Victor Coleman related LLCs purchased most of that block with the purple plat and the wedge-shaped block where ING and EMC have offices. Everyone Panic! (j/k)

It seems like all but the upper right corner of that block with the purple-bounded plat was purchased for $57 million in February as a part of a Hudson Merrill Place LLC acquisition.  That means CowGirls Inc has a new landlord.  It also has some land use restrictions related to being in the Pioneer Square Preservation District.

More recently, the wedge-shaped block immediately south of the indicated purple plat was purchased for $225 million by Hudson First and King LLC from King and Dearborn LLC (previously once owned by Starbucks, because they’re landlords now).  It’s where ING and EMC have offices and has some intimidating land use restrictions related to open space preservation.


Would it make sense to build an arena there?  Not really.  It’s even narrower than Hansen’s property and has King Street running through the middle.  Nobody is getting a street vacation on something that leads to the waterfront.

May 162014

The Wall Street Journal sat down with Steve Ballmer and talked about his golf game, the new CEO, and if he’d buy the Clippers.  It turns out, Steve has considered that option but doesn’t feel obligated to bring the NBA to Seattle.  He may be a billionaire, but he’s not foolish with his money.

WSJ: You’ve tried a couple times to buy an NBA franchise to return a basketball team to Seattle. Are you interested in the Los Angeles Clippers, if the team goes up for sale?

Ballmer: I have nothing definitive to say. Am I right on top of what’s going on there? Absolutely I am. I love basketball, and I’d love to participate at some point in the NBA. If the opportunity is outside of Seattle, so be it. I will learn about any team that comes up for sale at this point.

WSJ: So you wouldn’t move the Clippers to Seattle?

Ballmer: If I get interested in the Clippers, it would be for Los Angeles. I don’t work anymore, so I have more geographic flexibility than I did a year, year-and-a half ago. Moving them anywhere else would be value destructive.

May 142014

As local sports reporter Chris Daniels put it -  “This is the strongest sign yet of the National Hockey League’s interest in putting a franchise in Seattle.”

NHL head honchos Gary Bettman and Bill Daly flew to Seattle last week (came to Seattle first for a playoff game in LA?) and met with Mayor Murray and Exec Constantine to obtain a status report on the new arena.  Oddly, the president of the Seattle City Council (you know, that group that historically is at odds with half-assed plans out of the Mayor’s office and actually needs to vote to go forward on any arena deals), Tim Burgess wasn’t invited.

Daniels also provided an updated timeline on the environmental review for Hansen’s arena.  Once anticipated to be ready around late 2013, the lost Kings pushed expectations back to late summer, and now “sometime in fall, if we get moving again”.

Bryan Stevens, spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, said on Tuesday that the environmental review on the project is now not scheduled to be completed until “sometime this fall”.  He added, that he believed, that there had been “no measurable movement” in the last few weeks. 

May 082014

I’ve periodically browsed the California Secretary of State website to follow up on my concerns about the PAC “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager” not being a valid name for a primary named ballot committee according to the rules for naming such committees as stated on Form 410:

Primarily Formed Committees  -  Ballot Measures:

The name of each committee primarily formed to support or oppose a ballot measure must include:

•A statement identifying the ballot measure(s) number or letter and whether it supports or opposes the measure(s) (e.g., Committee For Proposition/Measure __ or Committee Against Proposition/ Measure __).

•The name must include the economic or other special interests of its major donors of $50,000 or more, in descending order based on the amount contributed to the committee. The list of these economic or special interests may not be interspersed with constituencies such as “concerned citizens, or consumers.”

According to the report by the FPPC, the following facts are stated:

On the afternoon of Friday, August 16, 2013, Mr. Baric emailed the Enforcement Division copies of campaign statements he intended to file on behalf of his clients. The filings included a Statement of Organization (Form 410) for a primarily formed committee called Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager (“Citizens”).  Brandon Powers was listed as the principal officer for Citizens and Lysa Ray the treasurer.  Also, included was a semi-annual campaign statement (Form 460) for Citizens for the January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013 reporting period. The statement indicated that Citizens received a $100,000 contribution from Chris Hansen, and listed Loeb & Loeb as an intermediary on that contribution. The statement also listed a payment of $80,000 to GOCO Consulting, Inc., amongst other expenses. Lastly, Mr. Baric provided a semi-annual campaign statement for Mr. Hansen (Form 461) identifying him as a major donor for his $100,000 contribution on June 21, 2013 to Citizens.  Upon receiving copies of the campaign statements from Citizens and Mr. Hansen, the Enforcement Division dismissed the civil complaint against Loeb & Loeb.  On August 21, 2013, each of the campaign statements listed above were filed with the City of Sacramento Clerk’s Office.

As best I can tell, there’s still nothing on the SoS website for Chris Hansen as a major donor in 2013, still no registration for a committee “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager,” listed online.  At best, we have the form 460 from the sac bee that, based on the pending committee number and lack of official stamps, was likely provided by Baric as what they intended to file and was not provided as a copy from the California Secretary of State’s documents.

Back in August 2013 I e-mailed the FPPC inquiring if the “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager” recipient committee was registered and received a reply from A(removed) K(removed) that:

SOS hasn’t yet posted on their website that they’ve logged the original (although they may have it), but I spoke with someone at the City of Sacramento who said she expects to receive a copy today.

Her contact information is: H(removed) C(removed), Senior Deputy City Clerk, (phone number removed)

Please let me know if you are unable to get it later today because we expect a copy to arrive at our offices today.

But, as is listed as a footnote to the “On August 21, 2013″ statement, maybe the fax machine ate it.

The City Clerk’s office received the original copies of the statements in the mail on August 21, 2013 and date-stamped them that day. The attorneys for Mr. Hansen and Citizens stated that they faxed copies of the statements to the City Clerk’s office on the afternoon of August 16. The City Clerk said it did not receive those faxes but stated that it was having technical problems with its fax machine on August 16.

Apr 252014

Bettman backs off from the talk of Seattle being an inevitable for the NHL.  Per the Seattle Times:

“Until there is some better certainty about a building and its availability to an NHL team,” Bettman said, “there’s really not a whole lot of point in even going further in the thought process.”

Others involved in NHL to Seattle rumors are similarly stymied:

With Ballmer and Hansen out of the hockey ownership equation, the only known candidate interested in downtown Seattle is New York investment banker Ray Bartoszek — who had a deal to move the Phoenix Coyotes here last summer in the event their new ownership deal in Arizona fell through. Once the Coyotes secured a deal to stay in Arizona last July, Bartoszek began exploring options for a Seattle expansion team and playing in a Sodo arena built by Ballmer and Hansen.  But in an interview Wednesday at his office in Greenwich, Conn., Bartoszek admitted he doesn’t see much hope of a Sodo deal happening anymore.  Bartoszek won’t rule out Sodo completely, but is exploring other options.  “We’re at the point now where somebody will have to get creative to make this happen,” he said.  One option Bartoszek began looking into this week was a major KeyArena overhaul into a bigger, hockey-only venue. Bartoszek has ruled out Bellevue as an arena site — even though some investors are exploring the possibility of building there.

So, with the NHL mum, I guess that just leaves people to salivate over the Bucks having their deal fall apart.  How noble.