Racist Remarks

Monday, September 8th, 2014

The majority owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Bruce Levenson, announced Sunday he is selling the team because of these “racist” remarks he made in an email two years ago:

Regarding game ops, i need to start with some background. for the first couple of years we owned the team, i didn’t much focus on game ops. then one day a light bulb went off. when digging into why our season ticket base is so small, i was told it is because we can’t get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo for season tickets around the league. when i pushed further, folks generally shrugged their shoulders. then i start looking around our arena during games and notice the following:

– it’s 70 pct black
– the cheerleaders are black
– the music is hip hop
– at the bars it’s 90 pct black
– there are few fathers and sons at the games
– we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel.

Then i start looking around at other arenas. It is completely different. Even DC with its affluent black community never has more than 15 pct black audience.

Before we bought the hawks and for those couple years immediately after in an effort to make the arena look full (at the nba’s urging) thousands and thousands of tickets were being giving away, predominantly in the black community, adding to the overwhelming black audience.

My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.

I have been open with our executive team about these concerns. I have told them I want some white cheerleaders and while i don’t care what the color of the artist is, i want the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy if that’s our season tixs demo. i have also balked when every fan picked out of crowd to shoot shots in some time out contest is black. I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too black.

Gradually things have changed. My unscientific guess is that our crowd is 40 pct black now, still four to five times all other teams. And my further guess is that 40 pct still feels like 70 pet to some whites at our games. Our bars are still overwhelmingly black.

This is obviously a sensitive topic, but sadly i think it is far and way the number one reason our season ticket base is so low.

And many of our black fans don’t have the spendable income which explains why our f&b and merchandise sales are so low. At all white thrasher games sales were nearly triple what they are at hawks games (the extra intermission explains some of that but not all).

Noticing that southern whites might not be comfortable in an arena or at a bar where they are in the minority is obviously racist.


  1. Bub says:

    In my experience southern whites are much more comfortable around blacks than any other whites, but especially those from the North and Midwest. Maybe Bruce is kind of dense, or maybe he’s just prejudiced against the South.

  2. Brendan says:

    The email was dug up as 24,000 documents were searched by an Atlanta law firm hired by other team ‘stakeholders’ after Danny Ferry said something insensitive in a meeting. The investigation was launched within a month or two after Sterling. So the likely interpretation:

    a) internal political/financial dispute exists
    b) sterling gives folks a bright idea
    c) ferry provides pretext for investigation
    d) relatively benign email found, forwarded to Silver, mission complete.

    Note that among 24,000 documents searched that was the worst offense uncovered.

  3. Bob Sykes says:

    So, what is going on here? Is Levenson manipulating the PC crowd to force the NBA to buy him out?

    Too funny for words.

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