Atlanta Hawks Owner Selling Team After Admitting To Racist Email
BuzzFeed - Latest 2014-09-07
“My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites…”
Bruce Levenson, the controlling owner of the Atlanta Hawks, announced on Sunday in a statement that he would be selling his share of team after self-reporting an "inappropriate and offensive" e-mail he sent in 2012.
“If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be,” Levenson said in a statement released by the team. “I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.
Levenson was one of Donald Sterling's strongest critics when the then-Los Angeles Clippers owner was caught making racists comments on tape, and was later banned from the NBA for life.
“I have said repeatedly that the NBA should have zero tolerance for racism, and I strongly believe that to be true. That is why I voluntarily reported my inappropriate e-mail to the NBA."
According to Levenson, the current Hawks CEO Steve Koonin "will oversee all team operations and take all organizational reports as we proceed with the sale process."
AP Photo / John Bazemore
The e-mail (full-text shown at bottom) was allegedly sent to team President Danny Ferry, and details how Levenson believed the team's fan base was too African-American and the "black crowd scared away the whites."
Curtis Compton / Atlanta Journal-Constitution
FULL TEXT OF THE E-MAIL (via the Hawks):
From: Bruce Levenson
To: Ferry, Danny
CC: Foreman, Todd (ucg.com); Peskowitz, Ed (ucg.com)
Sent: 8/25/2012 11:47:02 PM
Subject: Re: Business/Game ops
1. from day one i have been impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of the arena staff -- food vendors, ushers, ticket takers, etc. in our early years when i would bring folks from dc they were blown away by the contrast between abe pollin's arena and philips. some of this is attributable to southern hospital and manners but bob and his staff do a good job of training. To this day, I can not get the ushers to call me Bruce yet they insist on me calling them by their first names.
2. the non-premium area food is better than most arenas, though that is not saying much. i think there is room for improvement and creativity. Levy is our food vendor so we don't have much control but they have been good partners. i have wished we had some inconic offereing like boog's barbeque at the baseball stadium in balt.
3. our new restaurant, red, just opened so too early for me to give you my thoughts.
4. 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 bla