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

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Ed Murray Wants to Review Arena Math

 Finance, MOU  Comments Off on Ed Murray Wants to Review Arena Math
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.

KeyArena Still Could Be Signed Away to Hansen ?

 Finance, MOU  Comments Off on KeyArena Still Could Be Signed Away to Hansen ?
Apr 302013

I could have sworn that McGinn told the Seattle Center to prepare documents related to financial stability and studies of how to use the area.  There were going to be studies before grandstanding moves like this were going to happen.

Chris Hansen and the Seattle City Council appear to be pushing forward on the KeyArena Use Agreement.  The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 AM on Wednesday morning.  This would give Hansen the ability to operate and profit from the KeyArena in exchange for a $1.5 mil use fee, any NHL team would pay a 0.75 mil use fee, and any tickets for events that weren’t sports related (non NBA, WNBA, NHL, or city events) would get a ticket surcharge of $1 or $2.

This would be a joint meeting of the Gov’t Performance and Finance Committee as well as the Center Committee.  Hopefully someone with brains (Licata/Godden/Conlin, I’m looking at you) tables this thing until Hansen has NBA approval, because there’s little point in giving the operation over to him when we’ve already got a guaranteed payment and profit sharing from AEG for KeyArena use.

The use agreement summary is here and the full text is here.

Tim Burgess, Co-Chair
Jean Godden, Co-Chair
Nick Licata, Member
Sally J. Clark, Member
Richard Conlin, Member
Sally Bagshaw, Member

As a bonus, staffers Sara Belz, Hall Walker, Nathan Torgelson, and Robert Nellems (of the Seattle Center) will be there.  Ben Noble, and Dan Eder will also be there.  I’m still waiting for Noble and Eder to revise their “this doesn’t comply with I-91” presentation to show that the MOU somehow does comply, but not holding my breath.

Later in that meeting, there’s a budget-related issue with approving carry-forwards that has a SoDo arena carry forward of $400,000 cited as “This carry forward covers costs related to the SoDO Arena proposal. These funds were appropriated in the 2012 3rd Quarter Supplemental (Ordinance 124054) and were not fully expended by the end of 2012.”  Sally and Richard were asking for a summary of the “burn rate” on this arena proposal back in February’s arena update…  I’m really curious if they got those documents before they approve what may well end up being more arena expenditures.

I’ll be watching to find out answers to such interesting questions as:

if we don’t have a finalized transaction document for the rest of Hansen’s MOU, doesn’t this KeyArenaUse agreement have to comply with I-91 on its own ?  I wonder if we’ll finally find out what the fair market rent value is for an NBA arena.  Or how much of Hansen’s “use fees” would come from the KeyArenaFund that is earmarked to come from KeyArena taxes.

UPDATE 5/5/2013

Wow, most of the questions I’d asked were responded to during the discussion.


Apr 162013

KeyArena Lease Terms Finalized

It’s being reported that the potential lease terms between Hansen and KeyArena have been hashed out.  The full contract hasn’t been released but the main points are broadcast via Twitter for now. has been released and is available here as a pdf.  The Mayor’s press summary is here. Major points, Hansen gets to sell KeyArena naming rights, the City gives 500 parking passes to each team per event, Hansen’s paying a “use fee” of $1.5M a year, the NBA team will have a ticket surcharge and guarantee $0.5M a year from those, and any NHL team that signs on would be expected to chip in $0.75M a year. The upgrades mentioned in the use agreement seem rather small.. figures of $20M being thrown around would likely be including a lot of stuff to be moved with the team (scoreboards, concession stands). Hansen might have also been including the cost to build a decent practice facility, which the Sonics didn’t have at the Seattle Center.




KingTV has posted a copy of a letter sent by Seattle City Council members Burgess and Clark to support Hansen. Daniels also tweets that the Seattle MUP may not be filed “as early as Monday” as Daniels had earlier reported.

McGinn Says NBA Will Take Its Time, Not Vote This Week

Then again, why would McGinn know the schedule of the BoG ? I would expect the Sac and Seattle fans to keep digging fingers into their seats nomatter what.  Sacramento SuperFans have a bit of a distrust of Seattle-based Daniels as it is.


Apr 132013

The end of this week was a whirlwind of Kings-related news and Hansen’s embiggening his offer by about $16M.

Sacramento’s “Here We Stay” Campaign

Sacramento gained a whale and even started to turn investors away.  Midweek the news emerged of the Maloofs demanding a solid offer from Sacramento’s whales to keep in their back pocket, just in case their agreement with Hansen was rejected.  Skepticism was high on anything going through the Maloofs after they already had what was supposed to be a binding offer with Hansen already submitted to the NBA for approval.  On Friday the Maloofs’ stance on a self-created 5PM deadline softened and by Friday afternoon (after some mid-day rumors) we learned the Maloofs and Hansen had “upsized” the agreement to a $550 M total evaluation (Hansen buying 65% would mean $16.25 M).

Seattle I-91 Lawsuit Dismissed at Preliminary Hearing

The lawsuit concerning I-91 (King Co Superior Court  Case Number: 13-2-01901-9) had a hearing to respond to the City Attorney’s petition to dismiss the case Friday morning at 10 AM.  It lasted about an hour and had city officials saying “we have no firm arena deal” at the same time they’re telling the NBA they do.  Ultimately, the judge dismissed the filed lawsuit but there’s widespread misunderstanding that she gave a ruling.  Even our elected leaders (not Daniels) seem to think dismissing a case as being “not ripe” means there’s a ruling.  Of course, they’re doing this so they can skirt doing any sort of detailed public analysis on why this deal passes I-91, because the council budget people didn’t see it.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for this to “ripen” while fools like Goldy, Dominic Holden, and McGinn keep cheering as hypocrite I-91 “yes” voters.  Thanks for trying Mark Baerwaldt, but there’s still plenty of time for any Seattle resident to challenge this thing.  The judge just thinks a binding MOU that is the determinant of the final terms in the transaction docuemnts isn’t “binding” enough.

Video Archive – City Inside/Out

Aside from the McGinn video where he says he voted for I-91 (above), I was watching some Seattle Channel videos this weekend and came across some March comments on the SoDo arena I missed.  I did find it amusing that Tom Rasmussen completely avoided taking a side on the arena… my god I miss CR Douglass on that show.  The Seattle City Council voted 6-2 with Rasmussen traveling and not voting (Conlin and Licata as the “No” votes).  He’s in charge of the Transportation Committee that will handle the Occidental Street vacation for the SoDo arena (once that site is selected and Hansen files to use it…  details are fuzzy on if he can file with the MUP or if the EIS has to help with site selection/mitigation first).

Seattle I-91 Hearing – Ruled Too Early

 MOU  Comments Off on Seattle I-91 Hearing – Ruled Too Early
Apr 122013

It began at 10 AM, and for this I thank you Chris Daniels.




And the judge punts, effectively saying that without final transaction documents written it would be tough to actually decide if I-91 can be ruled on. Of course, the MOU has binding terms on what is to be included in the transaction documents, but that’s not a firm enough commitment for this judge. I-91 (complete text here) lives to fight another day though.  Brinksmanship is the word of the day, but maybe a hedge fund manager likes that (even if the NBA doesn’t).

“Any resident of the City of Seattle shall, by virtue of his/her status as a taxpayer in the City, have legal standing to challenge, in King County Superior Court, any act, lease, ordinance, or resolution taken, entered into, or enacted by the City of Seattle which allegedly violates this initiative, within ninety (90) days of such act, lease, ordinance or resolution”

KOMO4 Interviews Bruski and Stockton of I-91 Lawsuit

 Lawsuit, Other Arenas  Comments Off on KOMO4 Interviews Bruski and Stockton of I-91 Lawsuit
Apr 102013

Komo4 had a brief news article covering the new whale/developer in the Sacramento group, following Burkle’s departure after NBA officials were concerned the sports management company he invested in a year ago could be a conflict of interest.

We also get some comments from the leader of the current I-91-based challenge to the SoDo arena plan.  There’s a big discrepancy between what appeared on the ballots and information for I-91 vs how the city/Hansen have been reading the exact language of the initiative from a technical understanding.  It will be interesting to see how the courts interpret the initiative’s intent.

Sacramento’s local independent paper has a decent summary of the battle from their perspective.

Feb 242013

Lookback at Feb 16, 2012

I’m about a week late in recognizing the 1 year anniversary of McGinn announcing the project with Hansen (after they’d been working on it for half a year secretly). You can check the video below to relive flashbacks of Feb 16th if you wish. One thing really stood out to me, though, was his saying this deal was designed to satisfy I-91. The City said getting an I-91-type return was important and McGinn said HE VOTED FOR IT as well. That’s why the calculations done by the city saying the original MOU failed I-91 were particularly bothersome. I’m still waiting for the city budget office to present a clear outline of why this new deal does satisfy I-91, after making such a presentation to describe how the old one did not.

McGinn Wins with Arena Deal ?

Publicola is trying to call the Mayoral election already and predicts that McGinn has gained major points for his work on the arena.   At last weekend’s All Star Game press conference David Stern “in your faced” Chris Daniels and said that I-91 and the tight purse-strings of state legislators like Chopp are clearly why the Sonics left Seattle.  Publicola’s position is that McGinn only played a small role in causing the Sonics to leave (by voting for I-91) and a larger role in bringing them back ? I’d say he’s just pandering as best he can, like your average bicyclist climbing a hilly street in traffic.

Monday Arena Meeting at SCC

Monday morning there will be an update on the Arena with the Seattle City Council.  Ben Noble and Dan Eder (who initially explained why the MOU did not pass I-91) will be in attendance but their presentation looks like it won’t be the analysis I’m looking for.  It does call the KeyArena Use a separate issue from the MOU (does that mean the KeyArena deal has to meet I-91 on its own?).  There’s nothing on the agenda about Council member (and Mayoral Candidate) Burgess following through on exempting Hansen from I-91, yet.