Apr 122014

Word on the street is that Herb Kohl (former Senator of Wisconsin and Kohls stores heir) is selling the Bucks, but not to any carpetbaggers.

John Ferensen puts it succinctly:

Imagine that. An owner not being a scumbag and selling out a fan base to make a buck. Everyone knows that Steve Ballmer can outbid anyone not named Ellison (in terms of uber-rich people who have shown interest in owning an NBA team), but clearly that’s not where Kohl’s interest lies. I’ve said all along it takes a special kind of asshole, with the right amount of not giving a shit, to facilitate what happened to the Seattle Supersonics in 2006. The Maloofs tried to copy the blueprint last year, but failed because they negotiated their own deal, and the NBA hates it when owners do things behind the league’s back.

John also twists the knife a little bit at the end.

Of course, because the rest of America is not comprised of uptight, anti-sports NIMBYs like your average Seattle resident, I have zero doubt it’ll get that arena deal. Alas, this leaves Seattle on the outside looking in on the NBA for the next five years-to-forever.  But, hey, how ’bout them Thunder? (begins projectile vomiting)

Mar 202014

Not that it matters too much for Seattle, but apparently the rumors of legendary coach of the multi-championship Bulls/Lakers Phil Jackson being on board with Hansen weren’t all wrong.   Of course, his crazy old-man plan was to have a relative unknown actually be in the coach’s hot seat for the team.

From Yahoo Sports:

They’re going to implement a system here – the triangle offense – and Jackson plans to pursue Steve Kerr to come coach the Knicks. Jackson had convinced Kerr to come to Seattle as his coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports, only to have those plans foiled when a purchase agreement with the Sacramento Kings fell apart.


Mar 192014

Art Thiel over at sportspressnorthwest has tracked down a statement from the Seattle City Council on MOU modifications to proceed with the NHL as primary tenant…..  No, too risky.  On top of that, Hansen’s team seems to be taking their sweet time on helping complete the EIS review.  Maybe this is a way to reduce the billed hours on a dead project ?  Obviously, Hansen had structured this deal so that the real profit was made in owning the franchise and converting a team from a shaky situation into a shiny new home.  NBA teams are still worth a lot more than your average NHL team (about 3x as much).


Responding to an email from Sportspress NW, City Council president Tim Burgess wrote Tuesday that the memorandum of understanding is unlikely to be changed because the financial risk is too high.

“I don’t believe the MOU could be modified to allow an NHL team to go first,” Burgess wrote. “During our initial consideration of the MOU, it was quite clear that the financial risk to the city increased dramatically with the NHL-first scenario.”

A source within the group helping Hansen, the Seattle native who has proposed a $500 million basketball/hockey arena in SoDo, said Hansen has given no consideration to asking the city to change.

“Chris has not proposed changing anything,” he said. “He’s always said he’s a basketball guy.”

Dec 092013

Chris Hansen stories pop up every so often to remind us that he’s still out there.  He want to reassure supporters that he’s not done yet.  Recently, he sat down with Chris Daniels for a long interview for KING5.

Chris Daniels with Chris Hansen

Some excerpts:

“We ended up losing $30 million dollars in the process, we thought we had the team moving here. It was tough, losing it,” he says, reflecting on his failed purchase and relocation of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Of course, that was due to his relatively without-precedent maneuver of using a non-refundable deposit with his purchase agreement for an NBA franchise.

“It was a mistake. I apologized to the people of Sacramento,” he counters, “There was nothing illegal being done. The law firm representing us, did not handle the donation correctly.”

Actually, not filing your disclosure of a major donation is illegal.  They use the same rule for filing taxes…  even if your tax preparer dies and doesn’t file, it’s your responsibility to do so.  The recipient committee not filing a disclosure of the donation is also illegal.  While the SacBee obtained preliminary filings that does not actually conform to the rules for committee name, to date, you still can’t find paperwork for the PAC registered as “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding By Hedge Fund Manager”.

Hansen was in Seattle for the Thanksgiving holiday and appeared at a special event on the Eastside.  He says he’s had meetings, including visiting with Seattle’s Mayor-Elect Ed Murray.

“I haven’t had a chance to meet with the new council member (Sawant). I have had a chance to meet with Murray, and we look forward to working with him, he seems like a reasonable person,” said Hansen.

I’m sure that the incoming Mayor is going to play nice for a while.  Certainly in this puff piece Mr Daniels is not going to push on how Chris expects Sawant to further vote for handing tax money to mulch-billionaire Ballmer and hedge fund manager Hansen’s sports palace with no guaranteed profit.  I really don’t see that happening.

Mike McGinn with Brian Callanan

Soon to be ex-Mayor McGinn was on a November Ask the Mayor and was given slow-pitch questions about the arena and I-91.

I’m happy to see McGinn pedaling off into the sunset without another 4 years.  I, personally, had preferred Steinbrueck in the primary, but Ed Murray still satisfied my “Anyone But McGinn” desire.

Sonics Without Subsidies

A new group, Sonics Without Subsidies, organized and emerged mid-November with a report outlining how they account for the proposed arena getting $731 million from the public, despite McGinn’s saying “it won’t cost the public anything”.  If you want to see some white-washing by Chris Daniels, listen to the audio here.  Art Theil did a decent  job summarizing their study’s findings, but I would encourage you to look through the source material here.  At FieldofSchemes, author and semi-professional sports-stadium subsidy tracker Neil deMause took issue with the accounting by Sonics Without Subsidies, but wildly speculative numbers and inaccurate accounting are really par for the course with figuring who pays for sports stadia.  Oftentimes, it ends really badly for the backer of the bonds.

Meanwhile, In Sacramento….

Sacramento has been busily proceeding forward with their planning and acquisition for their downtown arena.  The signatures that were gathered with Hansen’s money are, to the best of my knowledge, still in the hands of Sacramento’s anti-arena group STOP.  This morning, the Sacramento Bee had a story announcing 40,000 signatures were being submitted.  They need about 22,000 that are legit.  They say they have about 40,000…  Crown Downtown says about 14,000 signatures are being rescinded through their own efforts with “oops, please withdraw me from that petition I signed, petitions” and Chris Hansen’s donation ended up paying for 18,000 signatures to be gathered, which he then asked if they could be returned…  which they weren’t.  Marcos Brenton doesn’t mince words (“There are certain terms that fit Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen to a T. But the best ones are not fit for a family newspaper.”) but he forgets that Hansen has produced no evidence that he himself is a billionaire and he currently (and for the past many years) lives in the rolling hills of Tiburon California.

UPDATE:  And, the signatures are in.  It’s going to be a long, complicated count for some people at city hall.

video after the jump because it autoplays

Continue reading »

Nov 202013

As we’ve been saying for quite a while, McGinn’s “no tax money” arena takes a very limited scope in evaluating the funding for Hansen and Ballmer’s arena MOU.  We’ll see what adding a firebrand like Kshama Sawant adds to the mix, but a recent KIRO story has people for Ed Murray willing to examine the math of the proposal a bit further.

Nov 062013

The race for the Mayor of Seattle was thought to be decided in preliminary polls, but NBA faithful pulled for Mike McGinn as their candidate.  Kris “Sonics Guy” Brannon and Brian Robinson (who both, incidentally, do not live in Seattle and thus can’t vote for Mike) of various Sonics fan organizations endorsed Mike McGinn just before the primary.  Sonics fans were encouraged to phone bank, drag their friends into voting in this off-year race, etc to try to stem the tide of McGinn’s trailing by over 10 points.

It failed.  The first ballot count posted Tuesday night indicated McGinn was trailing 43% to 56% (39,124 votes to 50,938).  That sort of deficit is unlikely to be made up.

The Seattle City Councilmen who voted against the Hansen arena MOU, Conlin and Licata, are both safely re-elected.  Conlin’s challenger Sawant was nipping (and, oddly, endorsed by many NBA fans), but it looks unlikely for Conlin to be unseated.

District elections for Seattle City Council positions finally won, which will be interesting to see how it plays out and who ends up representing the SoDo contingent.

McGinn Defeated By Arena-Opposition

As we’ve heard said about Nickel’s 2009 defeat being a referendum on his handling of the Sonics’ departure, I guess the same can be said about McGinn’s defeat being helped, in no small way, by the nearly 3/4ths of the voters out there who remembered voting for I-91, against building an arena for the NBA without making money on it.

While not at all overturned by a credible challenger, the 22% of the vote going to “not-Dow Constantine” for King County Executive – candidate Alan Lobdell – could also be a good sign of growing foment against those who promulgate another taxpayer-assisted arena.

Oct 262013

Seattle Voting

Ballots should be in your hands by now.  As you fill it out, remember that Nick Licata and Richard Conlin were both “No” votes on the SoDo arena scheme.  Of the two, Conlin may be the one facing the bigger challenge in Kshama Sawant (although it’s doubtful a Socialist would be eager to bond $120 million in future tax collections for the purposes of building a sports arena for the highest paid professional athletes).

City Council elections by Districts (Charter Amendment 19) is something I support, personally.  Let’s be honest, the Seattle City Council likes to pass a whole bunch of things with unanimous votes that should be a little more controversial (the bag ban 9-0, the yellow pages opt out program that was easily predicted to result in a lawsuit (which was then settled out of court with the city paying half a million dollars without setting precedence) 8-1, for example).  If Districts cause a little more shake up and change the continuous recycling of incumbents, I’d be ok with that.

Ed Murray has not taken up Steinbrueck’s opposition to the SoDo arena with any fervor.  He, publicly, seems a bit more skeptical about what it could do to the Port of Seattle operations.  On Friday’s KUOW review, about 46m 10 sec in, you can hear Knute Berger proffer that Murray may be the better candidate for arena opposition.  Marcie Sillman also interviewed Murray and he spoke about the maritime industry concerns and the waterfront at 4m 45 sec and seemed focused on defining where the dividing lines should be and improving freight mobility.


The Last Mayoral Debate on KCTS also featured this rather pointed question for McGinn (about 29m 30 sec in):

Earlier this year it was revealed that Chris Hansen, the man who is leading the development of the arena in SoDo, he contributed to a campaign that lobbied against a new Sacramento Kings arena and that he failed to disclose that, as required by law.  Hansen paid a fine for that and I guess the question is, “Can Chris Hansen still be trusted in our dealings with him?”

Ed Murray had a similar question and suggested that Hansen’s actions do raise questions that we can’t simply ignore, but he did feel it was important to examine the protections and risks associated with this deal.

Sep 172013

Despite Hansen’s statement that he would stop the signatures he paid for from being submitted, the Sacramento anti-arena group claims to have all 18,000 of them and plan to use them as a part of the overall 22,000 signatures needed to legislate that there will be a public vote on sports subsidies.  The full announcement is here.

The campaign to force a public vote on the city’s arena subsidy received a big boost over the weekend when it obtained 18,000 petitions funded by Chris Hansen.

Hansen, who tried to buy the Kings earlier this year and move them to Seattle, had said he would try to prevent those signatures from being used in the drive to qualify a measure for the June ballot that would require future voter approval of sports arena subsidies.

However, Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) announced this morning it had received the signatures from an Orange County political consultant who had arranged for the petitions to be gathered with $100,000 from Hansen. STOP said that the consultant, Brandon Powers, “arranged to have the signature petitions delivered to STOP.”

As a reminder, this is what Hansen wrote on SonicsArena.com.  I guess he’s as effective at controlling his donation money as he is at getting an NBA team.

I would also like to highlight that I will take steps to prevent any signatures collected by GoCo from being submitted to the opposition. As it was never my intent to directly fund signature gathering efforts, I completely agree with the numerous Kings fans who have taken the time to write me and suggest this course of action.

The STOP press release cites the following CA law in their suggestion that the signatures had to be turned over.  The exact reading of the text sounds more like something intended to prevent someone from blackmailing the larger organization with some fraction of signatures, as STOP was never paying Hansen’s gatherers.

18640.  Any person working for the proponent or proponents of an
initiative or referendum measure or recall petition who solicits
signatures to qualify the measure or petition and accepts any payment
therefor and who fails to surrender the measure or petition to the
proponents thereof for filing is punishable by a fine not exceeding
five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment pursuant to
subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months or
two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by
both that fine and imprisonment.

Hansen’s Letter to STOP saying “Stop”

The full text is at king5.com.

To Whom it May Concern:

As you know, I inadvertently funded the collection of signatures to support the
qualification of the "Voter Approval for Public Funding of Professional Sports Arena Act." I
made the decision to contribute funds towards this effort before the NBA Board of Governors
voted to keep the Kings in Sacramento on May 15, 2013. Without my knowledge or
authorization, my funds were subsequently used to hire a signature gathering firm to collect
signatures. It was never my intent to support the qualification of the measure and I strongly
oppose the use of the signature for which I paid $80,000 for that purpose.

Although I have no role or decision making authority in Citizens for a Voice in
Government, I attempted to prevent any signatures collected with my funds from being
submitted to STOP. Unfortunately, Brandon Powers, the principal officer of the Citizens for a
Voice in Government committee, took it upon himself to send the signatures to STOP against my
wishes and without consulting me or my attorney. STOP did not pay for these signatures, nor
does it have any legal right to them. If you wish to continue your efforts to qualify the measure,
I request that you do so without the benefit of the signatures collected with my funds. Please do
the right thing and return the signatures to me or destroy them.

Chris R. Hansen
 Posted by at 1:19 pm