Hansen = STOP rumors ARE TRUE
I too had seen the rumors (I’ll credit SactownRoyalty’s JasoninNYC on 8/10) and seemingly wild accusations around who was funding the STOP signature drive in Sacramento. I shoved it aside because, as much as I dislike Chris Hansen’s arena drive, I didn’t think he was crazy enough to fund any sort of “anti-sports arena funding” efforts while he was still desiring to join the club of NBA team owners. Boy was I wrong.
Today, the Sacramento Bee (and many other outlets, including those closer to home) have this bombshell confirming that Hansen cut a $100,000 donation to the signature effort, which is likely their entire funding.
So it turns out that the guy who tried to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle is kind of a giant scumbag. Huh, how about that.
A volunteer group known as STOP (Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork) has been trying to force a public referendum on the construction of a new arena that is a necessity for the Kings to stay in Sacramento. About a month after the NBA turned down Chris Hansen’s bid to move the Kings to Seattle, STOP received a mysterious $80,000 donation from a Los Angeles law firm.
Yesterday, a California watchdog group filed suit to force the firm to reveal the identity of the donor, something it had been fighting for weeks. Today, the identity leaked. It was Chris Hansen.
The story is still developing, and there’s a lot of spin being thrown around by Hansen supporters but no statement from Hansen yet on SonicsArena.com (a place he once announced his increase bid for the Kings to the entire world).
In absence of the response, I’ll leave you with this statement from May 20th’s SonicsArena statement:
This was never about Seattle fans versus Sacramento fans, and it goes unsaid that there is a mutual respect given the circumstances we have both been through. This process was instead about our group and our city putting our best foot forward in an honest and transparent way to return basketball to Seattle, and in that regard our efforts remain undeterred.
UPDATE 6:30 PM:
Hansen has released a response on the SonicsArena website. It basically says that he contracted a law firm to monitor groups seeking to undermine Sacramento’s arena plans and “made a mistake” giving a donation to support their efforts. Deadspin got it wrong, Hansen is no billionaire, so I really have to wonder if he didn’t realize he was giving enough money to pretty much entirely fund a signature drive. Hansen’s response also calls into question the bravado of his statements regarding a binding agreement that all parties know is the right deal.
EDIT: As pointed out by a commenter, Hansen’s donation was listed as being received 6/21 (more than a month after the 5/15 NBA BoG vote in Sacramento’s favor). Maybe you could spin that to “Hansen promised them a bunch of money before mid-May and then decided to make a mistake and send the check via really slow delivery methods such that it took a long time to arrive and be recorded”, but that’s laughably unlikely.
I made a mistake I regret.
When our binding agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings became a competitive situation and we were faced with both the prospect of seeing our transaction fail and losing our $30 million deposit, I engaged Loeb & Loeb to canvas the various opposition groups to gain an understanding of their efforts and the prospects of their success.
During this time I was approached through Loeb by the opposition about making a contribution to the opposition’s efforts as part of a broader group and agreed to make a donation.
On a side note, I thought the NBA collectively offered to make Hansen whole on the $30M deposit and he declined. Was that a Sports Illustrated error ? If you don’t take advantage of a money-back offer then I think you don’t get sympathy for that.