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The letter Christopher Hansen should write back to misguided Think Big Sacramento

By Mike Salk

An open letter written on behalf of the advocacy group Think BIG Sacramento criticized Christopher Hansen for his "highly publicized effort to steal" the Kings and challenged him to a debate so that he could "defend the indefensible and explain the inexplicable: [his] effort to steal our jobs." Hansen hasn't publicly responded, but if he did, it would look something like this.

Dear Mr. Jackson,

Thank you for your letter, though I think you must have addressed it incorrectly. Are you sure you meant to send this to me? This letter seems to be for someone that is actively working to steal something from you.

I am not.

The Kings have been unable to secure funding for a new arena for the better part of six years and if the March 1 deadline passes without a new deal in place, the team is not going to stay in Sacramento. That deadline is coming, whether I have interest in building an arena in Seattle or not.

While I understand that you are frustrated by the team's ownership and their financial difficulties, I did not create them. The fact is, neither the city nor the ownership has been able to approve plans to build a new arena and without that arena, the team cannot be profitable enough to survive. The NBA and its commissioner are not going to allow that team to remain in a city with an aging arena and no hope of new funding.

That said, you raise some interesting, albeit foolish, points that I'd be happy to address.

You wrote: If you have ever been to Sacramento, you would know that this is a big city with small town values and a big heart, which will fight for the more than 4000 construction jobs, seven billion dollars in economic development and $150+ million in annual economic activity that will be created as a result of the building of a new downtown-based Entertainment and Sports complex.

While I would never impugn Sacramento nor question its values, clearly the figures you mention are either exaggerated or do not mean enough to the local officials to have them vote in favor of sufficient public funding for the arena.

You wrote: In this age of historic economic challenges, regardless of where one lives, we should all be working together to create jobs. Our country has always been at its best when people have come together to work for the common good. And that is precisely what we have done in Sacramento under the leadership of Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Sacramento City Council.

Today, the entire community, Business and Labor, Republicans and Democrats, the Mayor and the City Council, is working for the greater good of Sacramento.

Again, I think you must re-check your facts. The entire community has not come together behind the Kings nor the mayor. If it had, you would have already secured funding for the new project. I understand that you want a new arena and believe all of those entities MUST come together for it to be built. But if that March 1 deadline passes, those groups will have shown that their priorities lie elsewhere.

You wrote: We are especially troubled that you would be actively pursuing an initiative that you know will short-change our community of badly needed jobs given that your native city of Seattle knows the economic pain and suffering that comes when one city raids another city. One would think that Seattle of all places would be sensitive to engaging in such predatory behavior.

Ah, here we go. This is the part where you think Sacramento has any more right to those jobs and economic benefits than Seattle does. Why? As you wrote in your last paragraph, "in this age of historic economic challenges, regardless of where one lives, we should all be working together to create jobs." If you really believe that I should be equally happy to see jobs created in Sacramento as in my native Seattle, then you should be equally happy to see jobs created in my city over yours.

That, of course, is a fantasy. When Boeing wins a profitable aerospace contract over Northrup-Grumman, it is a win for the Pacific Northwest at the expense of southern California. Should Boeing not bid for contracts for fear of hurting those in other regions?

You wrote: Given what is at stake for Sacramento and your highly publicized effort to steal our team, we challenge you to come to Sacramento and participate in a debate at high noon on February 23rd at the Oak Park Community Center where you can defend the indefensible and explain the inexplicable: your effort to steal our jobs.

Are you serious? You are bringing a knife to a gun fight.

You wrote: Participating in this debate on behalf of Sacramento will be a construction worker representing the thousands of workers from the Building Trades who have been out of work with unemployment for construction workers in excess of 20%, a current employee at Power Balance Pavilion who will lose their job should the Kings depart, and a representative of our youth community who love their Kings and wants them to stay in Sacramento.

Ok. I might take the bait. But if I decide to participate, I am also bringing an out-of-work construction worker from Kent, a former concessions manager at KeyArena who had to leave her job because she couldn't support herself from the 12 dates per year she was asked to work after the Sonics left, and a high school junior from Stadium High School in Tacoma who would love a new basketball team to support. I'm also going to bring a fifth-grade girl from Bothell who might be the goalie on the 2026 Olympic hockey team if she is inspired to greatness by an NHL team that would co-inhabit the proposed Seattle arena. No hockey team has had interest in Sacramento.

I'm also going to bring a television consultant who can explain why the No. 12 market in the country is so important to the business models of both the NBA and NHL.

You wrote: Keeping the Kings in Sacramento as the cornerstone for the economic revival of the City is really a question of whose side are you on: Are you on the side of jobs for Sacramento; the future of Sacramento; and the people of Sacramento or are you trying to kill our jobs; working against our future; and anti-Sacramento?

Actually, there is a third side. I am on the side of being indifferent. If Sacramento wants to add jobs, build an arena and revive its economy, it will do that regardless of my involvement. Do you think someone that gives money exclusively to cancer research is against research for heart disease, AIDS or Alzheimer's disease? Of course not! Economic revival in Sacramento is your goal, and while I don't oppose it, it is not my primary objective.

I am on the side of Seattle. In no way does that make me opposed to Sacramento.

Good luck.

Sincerely,

Christopher Hansen (as penned by Mike Salk)

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