Bruce Levenson To Step Down As Atlanta Hawks Owner After Release Of Racist Email
Atlanta Hawks' Bruce Levenson will step down effective immediately as owner of the NBA team after the release of a racist email he sent in 2012.
According to USA Today, Levenson reported the email to the league in July while the investigation into Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was underway. In the email Levenson sent to Hawks President Danny Ferry, Levenson alleges the Hawks fanbase is too African-American, which is what he believed was hurting season ticket sales.
Read an excerpt from the email sent on Aug. 25, 2012, below.
My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant 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.
Levenson then goes onto offer suggestions as to how to remedy the overwhelming black presence.
"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."
In a statement, Levenson apologized for his insensitive statements and for taking Atlanta Hawks fans for granted.
"I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive," Levenson said in a Hawks news release Sunday morning. "I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests (i.e., hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.) and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another (i.e., that white fans might be afraid of our black fans). By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans."
It's quite obvious Donald Sterling wasn't the only one.