If Golden State Warriors player Andre Iguodala helps his team clinch the NBA Finals tonight over LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers, it’ll mean big parties in Oakland. It might also occasion some celebration at Woodridge’s Stadium Club. That’s because, according to alcohol board records, Iguodala has found himself mired in an investment in the District’s glitziest and most troubled strip club.
“It’s pretty cool that we’ve got an owner in the NBA championship game,” says Stadium Club co-owner John Vassos.
Stadium Club isn’t exactly a no-fuss place to stash your basketball earnings. Atlanta rappers Migos brawled with a rival rap crew there last year. Rapper Drake made headlines after storming into the club with wads of singles in an attempt to settle a beef. Under previous management, the club was sued by a former dancer for alleged sexual extortion, and the District government briefly seized the building on Queens Chapel Road NE over one owner’s unpaid tax debts.
Maybe it’s no surprise, then, that Iguodala wants nothing to do with the club.
“Mr. Iguodala had no interest in running or being associated with Stadium Club,” Stadium Club attorney Julian Haffner, who once helped Iguodala register his “AI9” trademark, told the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board last August.
Stadium Club’s financial woes provided Iguodala with an opening to get involved in the club, according to testimony from an Alcoholic Beverage Control Board meeting. In 2012, the NBA star’s company bought the note on a $2.2 million mortgage that the club’s then-owners were struggling to pay off.
But, according to ABC Board transcripts, Iguodala wasn’t interested in the high-flying life of a strip club owner. Instead, Iguodala wanted the land underneath the club.
When the club’s management finally defaulted too many times on their loans, Iguodala’s company and Vassos, another lender to Stadium Club, took it over last year. Iguodala’s company owned roughly two-thirds of Stadium Club, with the remaining percentage of the club controlled by Vassos.
Being a California-based NBA star who owns a strip club on another coast took its toll on Iguodala. At a July 2014 ABC Board meeting, Haffner struggled to explain why the club’s actual majority owner—-Iguodala—-couldn’t come to a hearing.
“We want the owner to be sitting at the table with you,” ABC Board member Donald Brooks said.
A month after the bruising ABC Board hearing, Iguodala transferred his ownership in the Stadium Club business, but not the land underneath it, to business manager Rudy Clyde Thomas, a District native.
Iguodala’s only price for the strip club business he had paid millions for was Thomas’ continued work managing the NBA star’s money.
“I just can’t believe that someone gives you a piece of the pie worth, I don’t know, over $2 million,” ABC Board member Nick Alberti told Thomas.
But the Stadium Club shares didn’t come without strings. According to the agreement between Thomas and Iguodala, the business manager can’t transfer or sell the shares without Iguodala’s approval. So Iguodala doesn’t own the shares, but he pays the guy who does, and that guy can’t sell the shares without Iguodala’s OK. It’s a situation Alberti said “has a red flag.”
It’s not clear what Iguodala’s current position is in Stadium Club. The Golden State Warriors didn’t respond to requests for comment.
As of February 2015, the club’s landlord was planned to be another company owned by Vassos and Iguodala. But even Vassos doesn’t understand what his ostensible partner’s role in the strip club really is. I called Vassos Tuesday to ask him to explain Iguodala’s position in Stadium Club.
“When you find out, will you let me know?” he said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery