Barry Levenson, controlling owner of the Atlanta Hawks has, after a meeting with NBA leadership and owners, decided to sell the team after acknowledging an email he sent that May be perceived as racially insensitive.
Some quotes from the email:
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 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
Um, okay. White Hawks cheerleaders now know they are on an affirmative action plan.
I read the whole letter, available at the link above. I don’t think the guy is a racist. It’s hard to see it if he is. He just wants to expand his season ticket base, the goal of every owner. His problem is the fact Atlanta is a shit sports town. One of the worst in America. The Braves are moving to the suburbs because old … guy doesn’t want to drive downtown, the Falcons get football fans because Georgia is a football state and the Thrashers … who apparently got tons of merchandise sales over the Hawks, even though they didn’t draw flies … moved out of town.
The Hawks have a problem because in the other sports, Atlanta is a front running town, and as I mentioned before, it’s a shitty sports town. The Braves couldn’t sell out baseball playoff games. That certainly isn’t a problem with blacks. Atlanta is the dreaded casual sports homer city. LB James or Kobe would get that arena to sell out because they are stars and fans there are ignorant. The Spurs, with a championship team, would not. Sorry owner, I know your town.