A Soaring Market In September, 2014, NBA owner Bruce Levenson and others indicated that the Atlanta Hawks NBA team and management rights to the Philips Arena would be auctioned. At the time, considerable speculation surrounded the possible final price the sale would generate. Although Forbes reportedly suggested last year that the Hawks might command a price in the $425 million range, recently a much higher figure of a billion dollars was considered likely by some people involved in the professional sports industry. What might account for the media’s confusion? Some writers have suggested that the lucrative contracts for televised basketball events recently obtained by the NBA has enhanced the overall value of the franchise. Basketball today remains a very popular athletic activity in the United States, where millions of fans regularly support high school, college and professional basketball games. A Lengthy Sales Process Between the initial offering and the final auction deadline of April 10th, 2014, a lot of behind the scenes activity likely occurred.
Today, large sports franchises are often purchased not only by lone wealthy individuals, but rather by groups of investors. In addition to the presentation of information, the collection and evaluation of bids and the drafting of contracts and agreements, the parties must also seek approval of proposed transactions from NBA franchise owners and conform with a host of regulatory guidelines. In this sense, the sale of a major professional sporting team in this century proves far more complicated than many real estate transactions. Mr. Levenson and other owners of the Hawks reportedly received an offer to purchase the team in the range of $850 million.
Media reports indicated the party hoping to become the new owner of the Atlanta Hawks will consist of a group of several people, including Antony Ressler, a real estate developer and private equity and investment firm owner. Others in his group reportedly include: Rick Schnall, a partner in the firm of Clayton, Dublier & Rice; Jesse Itzler, a co-founder of the Marquis Jet; his spouse Sara Blakely, an owner of Spanx; Grant Hill, an acclaimed NBA All Star; and Steven Starker, a BTIG co-founder. During this period, details await necessary approvals. Professional sports today involves complexity!