AJC wise guy Jeff Schultz weighed in on the latest report about the Atlanta Spirit Group’s supposed desire to sell the Hawks. The New York Post says ASG is looking to sell Philips Arena and the Hawks as a package deal and wants to unload the Thrashers separately.
Judging by the sports radio chatter this morning and blog comments in the past, Hawks fans would love it if ASG sold the team. But each time these stories flare up, ASG owners (when they’ve addressed the rumors) have consistently denied an interest in selling the team and insist they only want to take on investors. Micheal Gearon Jr. and Bruce Levenson released a statement today:
“As has been shared publicly for more than a year, we are interested in finding minority investors and have engaged a firm to assist us in that effort. We have no plans to move either team, and remain committed to the Hawks, the Thrashers, Philips Arena and the city of Atlanta.”
That’s not exactly a firm “We don’t want to sell the team,” though Gearon also e-mailed WSB-TV’s Zach Klein and said: “I have no interest in selling.”
It seems fans who want ASG to sell are dreaming of a deep-pocketed owner swooping in to spend big money on the franchise and provide one, clear voice for the direction of the team. But the chances of that happening are slim even if ASG is willing to part with the team because, think about it, apparently ASG is having trouble even finding proverbial minority investors.
It’s not an easy sell. The new owner(s) would have to continue to take short-term losses while believing there’s a chance to make money in the near future, an iffy proposition in the Atlanta market. Also, there just don’t seem to be many rich people running around looking to buy franchises nowadays. As the Post story notes, the Nets got “lucky” to sell the team to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov after an 18-month search–and that’s a team in the New York market that eventually play in Brooklyn.
So whether ASG is looking to take on investors or, as the Post says, sell the whole dang thing, first they need to find investors or buyers. Good luck with that.