SEATTLE — Chris Hansen’s secret contribution to a group opposed to a new arena in Sacramento will not hurt the billionaire’s efforts to deliver an NBA team to Seattle, said incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“I would say it won’t affect Seattle’s chances,” Silver said Sunday in Springfield, Mass., before the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony. “I haven’t talked to Chris since those allegations came out. I think as he said, he got caught up in the moment.”
On Monday, Hansen and two political consultants agreed to pay a $50,000 fine for failing to disclose a donation to a group hired to help in an attempt to block a new Sacramento sports arena.
Hansen lost his bid to buy the Sacramento Kings to an investment group led by technology executive Vivek Ranadive that bought the team for $535 million.
The NBA said Sacramento must build a new arena as part of the deal.
Before the NBA rejected his $625 million bid to buy the Kings on May 15, Hansen said he engaged the Los Angeles law firm of Loeb & Loeb to conduct background research concerning the viability of a new arena in Sacramento. He said he also agreed that a portion of money paid to the law firm could be used for political purposes, under certain conditions, to oppose the building of a new arena in Sacramento.
Hansen said he paid his legal bill to Loeb & Loeb on June 21, but was unaware the law firm then gave $80,000 to GOCO Consulting of Tulare, Calif., for a signature-gathering effort on behalf of arena opponents that would force a citywide vote on Sacramento’s planned $258 million subsidy for a $448 million downtown arena.
Under California campaign-disclosure laws, Hansen’s contribution should have been reported by July 31. Hansen said he didn’t learn of the payment to GOCO until Aug. 10.
After an investigation, the California Fair Political Practices Commission filed a lawsuit in civil court to uncover the anonymous contribution.
Hansen issued an apology Monday.
It’s unclear how NBA owners, who decide on relocation and expansion issues, will view Hansen’s actions.
However, Silver indicated concerns about anyone holding a grudge are overblown.
“We have a lot of competitive owners in the league,” he said “I’m sure all of that will be put behind us.”
Commissioner David Stern, who retires Feb. 1 after 30 years at the helm, echoed Silver’s sentiment.
When asked about Hansen’s financial contribution to the anti-Sacramento arena group, he said: “I don’t think that matters vis-à-vis the NBA and Seattle’s potential at all.”
Hansen has a little more than four years to secure an NBA team and finalize an agreement with Seattle and King County to build a $490 million arena in Sodo with $200 million in public subsidies.
Given the fact there aren’t any teams currently for sale, the bigger question is whether the 30-team NBA is going to expand anytime soon.
“That’s up to commissioner Silver,” Stern said.
And Silver replied: “I would never say it’s never going to happen. There’s nothing in the works at the moment. ”
Silver said the NBA has more immediate concerns, namely negotiations on a television contract that expires in 2016.
“Obviously the league has grown over the years and there may come a point to look at it,” Silver said, regarding expansion. “But right now coming off of our new collective bargaining agreement, we really want to make sure we have 30 franchises that are all financially sound.”