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Former NBA Kings bidder Chris Hansen on Friday was "unmasked as the mystery donor behind the signature-gathering effort to force a public vote" on the Kings' proposed $448M downtown arena, and he then "apologized for the donation ... and said he wouldn't give the anti-arena effort any more money," according to Kasler & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. Hansen and an Orange County (Calif.) PAC "filed documents revealing Hansen contributed $100,000 to the petition drive on June 21." The revelation "seemed likely to damage the petition drive -- and Hansen's own efforts to bring the NBA back to Seattle." California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) said that Hansen's donation "violated state law because disclosure came two weeks late." The news was the "latest setback for the Sacramento group gamely trying to carry on with the petition drive," entitled STOP, as it has been "hurt already by media reports about the secrecy behind the campaign's funding." Hansen said he "got caught up (in) the heat of battle." This came "amid signs that he was losing the tug-of-war over the Kings." But Hansen's statement "made no explanation of why he made the contribution three weeks after he had lost the fight." Hansen: "This is clearly a decision I regret." He said that he "had no contact" with the anti-arena group. He added he also had no contact with "any (of) the various consultants" in the anti-arena drive (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/17).
DELVING INTO THE DONATION: ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported law firm Loeb & Loeb, which Hansen used to make the donation, "secretly funneled $80,000" to STOP. Hansen said that the law firm "approached him about making a contribution to the petition effort after he had hired them to gauge citizen opposition during the battle over the sale." FPPC Enforcement Division Chief Gary Winuk said that it "wasn't clear what happened to the additional $20,000," though it "might have been spent on other expenses" (ESPN.com, 8/16). In Seattle, Miletich & Brunner wrote Hansen's bid to "bring the NBA back to Seattle took a major stumble" due to the revelation. Hansen "found himself under a cloud after working for nearly two years to cultivate a reputation locally as a trustworthy businessman." Winuk said that Hansen or the law firm "could face a civil penalty of up to $100,000" for not making the disclosure by the end of July (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/17). NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper noted of Hansen, "He apologized. After being caught." Howard-Cooper: "This level of, umm, opposition research is hardly shocking where tycoons of Hansen’s level play every day in deals measured on the Richter scale. ... But within the NBA itself, the actions are potentially huge." If there is an "apology to be made, it should be to Seattle for the way Hansen has injured his hometown’s efforts to get the NBA back." That is the "true lasting impact" of the situation, as it is "unquestionably a setback in a time when Seattle cannot afford any" (NBA.com, 8/17). In Sacramento, Marcos Breton wrote of STOP's efforts, "In a town where you can drum up formidable opposition to anything, the anti-arena forces are -- how to put this diplomatically? -- kind of hapless." Once you "strip away the anti-arena signatures gathered in Sacramento since late June ... you don't have much." Still, Hansen's donation "boggles the mind." The "smart move would have been for Hansen to suck up to NBA owners" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/18).
DEALING WITH DUPLICITY: In Seattle, Jerry Brewer wrote the disclosure shows Hansen "can do dirty and conniving and hypocritical, all of which should elicit two reactions." Brewer: "1. Shame on you. 2. It was only a matter of time." Hansen "deserves every degree of the heat he’s taking for his underhanded act." He "messed up, big time." It "might even be best" if co-former Kings bidder, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, "took a permanent lead in dealing with the NBA" after this. Still, this situation "is rectifiable." It "won't be easy, but it can smoothed over" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/18). In Sacramento, Tom Couzens wrote of the donation, "Hansen comes off as a rich, spoiled kid who isn't used to losing and doesn't know how to handle rejection." It is "time for Hansen to grow up -- and stay away" (SACBEE.com, 8/18). Also in Seattle, Danny Westneat wrote it "turns out that Sonics' white knight Chris Hansen ... is actually Karl Rove." The revelation "is troubling for all sorts of reasons," as it is "classless, for one." What is "going to cause problems here ... is the secrecy part of this story" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/18). Also in Seattle, Lynn Thompson wrote Hansen "badly tarnished the image of a trustworthy business partner that he’d worked so hard to cultivate." Less "certain was the fate" of Hansen's $200M arena agreement with King County, Wash., which "still requires final approval by the city and county councils" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Eric Freeman noted it is "possible that Hansen's actions are hurting Seattle's chances at nabbing a team" in the future. These actions "won't necessarily stop Hansen from getting a team, but they do introduce new doubts where there previously were very few" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/16).
Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO Bruce Ratner on Friday said that he will "remake Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding 77 acres of blacktop into a sprawling sports and entertainment complex that will become a destination for county residents for generations to come," according to Robert Brodsky of NEWSDAY. Ratner said, "This will become one of the greatest arenas in the world." Ratner added that he "hopes to relocate" the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' AHL affiliate, to Nassau Coliseum "after the building is renovated." The move "would require an agreement" with Islanders and Sound Tigers Owner Charles Wang. The Islanders are scheduled to move from the Coliseum to Barclays Center in '15. The Sound Tigers currently have a contract to play in Bridgeport, Conn. The team said on Friday in a statement, "The Sound Tigers love being in Bridgeport and absolutely plan on spending at least the next seven AHL seasons here." Ratner "shot down speculation that the Islanders would leave the Coliseum early." He said that it is "'highly likely' the team will remain for two more years." Ratner "plans to have professional lacrosse, boxing and Arena Football League games at the scaled-down, 13,000-seat Coliseum." He is "negotiating with the Atlantic 10, Big 10 and Pac 12 college basketball divisions to hold tournaments" (NEWSDAY, 8/17).
SPECTACULAR BID: On Long Island, Randi Marshall wrote under the header, "How Forest City Ratner Won The Coliseum Contract," noting the company "won the bid with a final lease that gives the county 8 percent of all gross revenue." County officials said that "in the end, it was the financial impact on the county that became the deciding factor." Officials also said that they "tried to focus" finalists Forest City Ratner and Madison Square Garden Co. "in the final weeks on limiting the county's expenses, particularly for utilities and maintenance, taking ownership and control of the arena as early as possible, and giving the county revenue even before a newly renovated arena opened." John Gowell, an attorney for Nassau County, "encouraged both finalists to consider committing to additional revenue payments before and during construction." Gowell said that Ratner "agreed, while MSG ultimately did not." Gowell: "Part of that is strategic, since we wanted to have a developer that's willing to put skin in the game on Day 1, even when it's going to cost money. The Forest City team was much more aggressive." Businessman Bert Brodsky, who was involved in some of the later discussions about the project, said that the "difference between the two finalists came down to 'flexibility.'" Brodsky: "Barclays wanted this project, even to the point where as an example, [Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark] said, 'I'll move to Long Island.' They bent over backwards to get it" (NEWSDAY, 8/18).
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: FORBES.com's Tom Van Riper wondered with the Nassau Coliseum renovations planned, "Why do the Islanders need to move at all? Couldn’t the proposal be expanded just a bit to meet NHL standards?" With the Islanders "now showing strong signs of improvement, a rebirth in Nassau County would seem to carry the largest potential upside" (FORBES.com, 8/16).
StubHub has expanded its relationship with the Redskins by signing a five-year deal covering naming rights to the club level at FedExField. The agreement, effective through '18, officially kicks off during tonight’s home game against the Steelers, which will be televised nationally on ESPN. Activation for the StubHub Club Level includes an interactive kiosk for fans to create a digital commemorative ticket to share socially. In addition, StubHub will award four oversized Dream Seats at the 50-yard line to StubHub customers at every stadium event. StubHub has been a Redskins partner dating to '06 and has been the stadium’s official secondary ticket services provider since '11. The naming-rights deal is StubHub’s second for a major league facility. The ticket reseller on June 1 became the naming-rights partner for StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., home of MLS Galaxy and Chivas USA (Don Muret, Staff Writer).
VIRGINIA, COME OUT AND PLAY: In Richmond, Michael Phillips reported Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday "threw the commonwealth's hat in the ring" for a potential new stadium for the Redskins after the team's FedExField lease expires in '27. Redskins officials are "beginning behind-the-scenes discussions about what comes next." McDonnell said, "We'd love that opportunity. If the right group of business and government folks came together to make an offer, it could happen." Redskins Exec VP & GM Bruce Allen said, "We’ve been looking at different options. As we’ve noticed with other NFL teams, it really is a 10-year process when you’re going to build a new stadium these days. There’s people -- you know, Prince George’s County loves us, obviously the District would like to have us and we love our home in Ashburn, too" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 8/17).
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Friday said that Mount Vernon Baptist Church, located on the site south of the Georgia Dome for the proposed Falcons stadium, would "sell its property for $15.5 million instead of the $20.3 million that it has been asking," according to Saporta & Wenk of the ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE. However, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority has said that the "most it could offer, because of state law regarding the acquisition of property," is $6.2M. Reed said, "The gap has gone from about $14 million to about $8 million. I hope that’s enough progress for people to stay" at the table. Reed has been "pushing for the new stadium to be located on the south site because he believes it is a much better option for the city." It is located "between two MARTA stations, and it is adjacent to the GWCC convention center." But the "clock is ticking on the south site," as the Falcons already have "declared that the south site is not feasible because several properties had not been acquired" by an Aug. 1 deadline. The Falcons and GWCCA instead have "decided to focus their efforts" on a site north of the Georgia Dome, about a half-mile away. But Reed has "refused to give up on the south site" and on Friday acknowledged the "urgency of getting the deals done in the next five to 10 days." Reed: "Regarding the last $8 million, I'm working on it." Asked if Falcons Owner Arthur Blank might contribute the $8M, Reed said, "I haven't had a conversation with Arthur about this because if we couldn't change the tone, we aren't going anywhere" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/16).
PEACH PIT: Reed said that though there is no agreement yet, the lowered price is "movement in the right direction." In Atlanta, Katie Leslie noted anything above the $6.2M the state can offer must "come from private sources." The Falcons declined comment on "whether the team would consider contributing additional private dollars to make a deal" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/17). Also in Atlanta, Leslie & Tucker ask, "Where might the money come from?" Reed's "grand vision of a stadium connected to public transportation and new development teeters on finding an answer." The Falcons are the "obvious potential source of private funds," but have "not said whether they are willing to contribute additional money." Atlanta sports and marketing exec Bob Hope said that if the Falcons "put up more money to acquire the south site, the team might be able to make it back in sponsorship sales." Hope: "I think they would do much better on sponsorship sales on the south site than the north site because it would be part of an overall complex, with more synergy and energy." If a resolution "isn't reached," the $1B stadium "likely will be built" on the north site (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/17).
The Patriots during the offseason hired New Hampshire-based Enterasys to install a high-capacity Wi-Fi network at Gillette Stadium and have launched a new app that they hope "will change the gameday experience for Patriots ticket holders," according to Callum Borchers of the BOSTON GLOBE. Enterasys President & CEO Chris Crowell said the team's gameday app has "an alarm clock that you can get that has voices of the players and coaches telling you to wake up and get ready for gameday." He added, "You also get camera footage of the night before the game with the coaches and the players." Crowell said after arriving at the stadium, fans can "get camera angles that you wouldn’t get on television and aren’t going to get on the big board." He added, "You’re going to get access to live statistics that you normally wouldn’t get inside the stadium. So, if you’re a fantasy football fan, you can follow your players as the day goes on. And there’s Red Zone (cable channel) footage, so you can see other games and replays throughout the day and kill any dead time you might have during timeouts." Crowell said of how the app helps with concession and restroom lines, "You can order while you’re sitting in your seat, and you’ll get a notification when your food is ready, telling you where to go pick it up. And if you’re concerned about bathroom wait times, the app can also point you to the nearest bathroom with the shortest wait time. If you get up and have to go to the concession stand, and you hear the crowd roar and say, 'Oh, what play did I just miss?' there’s video replay in the gameday app" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/18).
Calling Qualcomm Stadium "a dump really is an insult to dumps," according to Jim Trotter of THE MMQB. The JumboTron is "so old that some replacement parts can only be found on eBay." Heavy rains "often cause the drainage systems to back up," and it is "not uncommon for sewage to leak onto the field and into the visiting locker room." An independent audit performed for San Diego shows that the stadium needs $70M "in maintenance and repairs." The Chargers for the last decade have "proposed a variety of plans for a new stadium that would keep the team in San Diego." The latest is a "downtown venue near the convention center" and Petco Park. But the "simple fact is that the Chargers don’t even have a viable entity to negotiate with." Team management is "dealing with the most dysfunctional city government in the country," and "that is not hyperbole." The fact that Chargers Chair & President Dean Spanos "hasn’t packed up the team already ... speaks volumes about his sincerity about keeping the Chargers in town, although many of his critics will refuse to accept that." Spanos said, "We’ve been over 10 years in this process, and there have been times where we thought we were close. But we may be the furthest we’ve been from getting a stadium done because of what’s happened locally. It’s really a sad situation. But we’re not going to stop trying to get a deal done. I haven’t given up." Spanos "recognizes the financial issues facing the city, which is why his group is trying to structure a deal in which any public money would not come from the general fund." Trotter wrote San Diego "needs strong leadership to help get a deal done, and there’s no indication such leadership currently exists at City Hall." The city without that is "sure to lose the team" (MMQB.SI.com, 8/16).