“The Balkan” is Detroit venture capitalist JB Smith

John Kincade, co-host of the Buck and Kincade Show on the flagship station of the Thrashers 680 The Fan, has finally let the cat out of the bag. The person he has been telling us about who is interested in buying the Thrashers, NBA Hawks and Philips Arena…the person he has referred to as “The Balkan” is non other than Detroit venture capitalist J.B. Smith. Smith is formerly of Equity11, “an independent, private equity firm focused on investment of growth capital and business expertise into scaleable business models” per their website.

Kincade broke this via his twitter account saying, “J.B. Smith has been attempting to put together a deal to purchase the Thrashers, Hawks and Philips Arena since early March” and “J.B. Smith will now get the full ‘media treatment’ and will make his desire to own all 3 entities public knowledge”.

I spoke with Kincade earlier today and asked him about his involvement with J.B. Smith and getting him together with the Atlanta Spirit, LLC

“I was asked to introduce J.B. Smith to the AS, LLC”, he replied. “When I did so, I then got out of the way”.

Kincade also told me that he is only interested in seeing that the Thrashers remain in Atlanta and simply wanted to do whatever he could to make sure that happens.

“I’m not a reporter, but I wanted to get the parties together”.

Last winter Smith was interested in investing in the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL.

Stick with the AJC, I’m sure there will be a lot more to this story coming from beat writer Chris Vivlamore.

273 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

May 17th, 2011
5:07 pm

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 17th, 2011
5:07 pm

ZAvalanche

May 17th, 2011
5:08 pm

This pleases me.

Alan R.

May 17th, 2011
5:08 pm

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 17th, 2011
5:08 pm

SomaAtl95

May 17th, 2011
5:08 pm

This would be great! In JBS we trust!

Alan R.

May 17th, 2011
5:09 pm

Holy hell. That’ll teach me to read the story first. LOL.

J(Z)

May 17th, 2011
5:10 pm

And then CViv chimes in with “Be careful about getting too excited”.

This last week has been insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Please JB, make it happen!!!!!!!

SomaAtl95

May 17th, 2011
5:11 pm

If this in fact does happen Atlanta will finally have a hockey team to rival the old Flames teams. For the love of God Almighty I hope Canada gets 2 expansion teams so they can STFU about stealing other cities teams and do what they do best, rip on the Leafs.

ZAvalanche

May 17th, 2011
5:13 pm

Tonight’s game:

I see Boston coming back because if Tampa takes it tonight the Bruins can start dusting off their clubs.

Hoser

May 17th, 2011
5:14 pm

J.B. Smith said he was investing in Steelers, and never got to the negotiating table…hope that isn’t the case here.

ZAvalanche

May 17th, 2011
5:14 pm

@Soma – right on the money. The Maple-Laughs are the kicking mule of Canadians.

Telfo

May 17th, 2011
5:15 pm

at least now we have a real person to root for in this whole thing.

Keep The Thrashers

May 17th, 2011
5:22 pm

WOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Thanks be to God! – We have some hope!

We needed a white knight….. Join Us on FB : Show Mr. Smith Atlanta cares by “Liking us”.
We have over 3000 likes……fans have been great!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/KeepTheThrashers/188894621145432

Tony C.

May 17th, 2011
5:24 pm

This from @EKaneATL9 : Pasi!

Also this #Balkan vs. #WinnipegJets (NHL copyrighted/patented/bought up the name and logo last year!) is killing me.

English Teacher

May 17th, 2011
5:26 pm

Twitter is blowing up, but it isn’t certain that this guy is legit. C-Viv suggests caution when it comes to our hopes in this guy.

Matt from MN

May 17th, 2011
5:26 pm

Don’t know ANYTHING about this guy. I,too, would urge caution as I can recall the “excitement” when AS, LLC bought the Thrashers and how everyone had high hopes after the Time Warner ownership. I am hoping for good things to come out of this, but am reserving judgement.

Matt

May 17th, 2011
5:28 pm

Yeah, SOOO Credible Mr. Kincade…He should also report that JB hasn’t provided the REQUIRED financials to move forward (and he’s apparently been asked repeatedly), and there is a group with a signed LOI for the Hawks and the Arena, so he couldn’t buy all three even if he wanted to. Way to Go KINCADE….Bye bye credibility.

Ice Daddy

May 17th, 2011
5:30 pm

I’ve been following Kincade’s twitter feed ever since he first mentioned the Balkan. He never wavered from his story so I knew there had to be some truth to it. I know so little about JB Smith but at the same time he is my current best friend. Hopefully Kincade has been able to convince him that Atlanta is a real hockey market and we are real close to showing it. It would be a shame to finally get the ship righted and then get shipped off to the frozen tundra. Welcome to Atlanta, Mr. Smith and good luck.

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 17th, 2011
5:32 pm

This better not be a long-lost relative of Rankin..

Darkhorse

May 17th, 2011
5:32 pm

Not to be too much of a gloomy gus, but knowing who this mystery buyer is now doesn’t change the fact that the ASG still may not want to sell all three entities or allow the Thrashers to be sold and continue to play here.

Not much J.B. Smith can do but offer them a deal. They can still say no way, we would rather deal with the devil.

Hopefully some positive will come out. Maybe the media will contact Smith and others to ask what’s been the hold-up? Obviously the answer will be the ASG morons having zero empathy for the Atlanta fans.

Ice Daddy

May 17th, 2011
5:33 pm

Here’s the latest Custance article. It looks like the dude might be a little short of cash to pull off what he wants to pull off. I’m guessing he’d have to pull some others (Glavine, etc…??) into his group to make it work.

http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2011-05-17/faulty-ownership-bears-blame-in-thrashers-atlanta-failure

Baldheaded Thrasher Fan

May 17th, 2011
5:37 pm

Ok…we have 2 different reports.

1) ATL group wanting to buy the Thrashers.

2) The Balkin wanting to buy Philips, Hawks, and theThrashers.

Not knowing what the offers or the finances of the purchasers might be leaves me a bit underwhelmed, but if they pass the smell test the NHL needs to tell ASG LLC to stop negotiating with True North.

I’m off the rollercoaster but my stomach is still queasy!

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 17th, 2011
5:42 pm

First of all, I am quite pessimistic about this Smith story. That said, I have heard from different sources that after the sale of the Thrashers to TNSE is completed, that a sale of the Hawks and Philips op-rights will be announced. So it appears that ASG wants to get rid of all 3, but would like to do it in 2 transactions to max profits.

If that’s the case, and there is a legit buyer for all 3, I would hope that this is made very public so the NHL would have no choice but to force ASG to reach an agreement that would keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.

ASG does not have the right to sell to a relocator when a legit buyer exists here, even if they relocator offers more. Suppose when George Gillett sold the Montreal Canadiens to the Moleson family that TSNE was offerening $50M more. There is no way that Canadiens would have been allowed to be moved. More money does not give you the right to relocate a franchise.

Hockey Biltong

May 17th, 2011
5:43 pm

Not sure this guy has the chops to do the deal. My interpretation of his comments sound like ” we only do the deal if it is really, really cheap.”
And that wont work with TNorth burning holes in their pockets with cash.We know the ASG are mercenaries and will sell to the highest bidder regardless of how close the “stay in Atlanta offers are”.

Hockey Biltong

May 17th, 2011
5:45 pm

Flames, I hope you are right…

Sickdog

May 17th, 2011
5:58 pm

It all comes down to the definition of a legitimate offer is, I guess. I can be a multi-billionaire and want to keep the Thrashers here, but I am only going to offer 1 million dollars. In that case, I’m sure the NHL can’t force the owners to take that offer. Where is the line drawn to be considered a legit offer?

Thrashers27

May 17th, 2011
6:04 pm

Here’s hoping this guy can deliver.

I’ve never been a proponent of throwing Waddell under the bus over the last eleven-12 years, but if the Thrashers find new ownership, I think it would be a good time to part ways with Don. Sort of a “Thanks for all you’ve done, (or, not done) but we’re gonna start with a clean slate. Thanks!

Anyhoo, first things first. Let’s keep our thrashers where they belong!!!

Ice Daddy

May 17th, 2011
6:12 pm

If Jay Clemons’ twitter update is correct, Mr. Clemons has quit his job at Sports Illustrated to handle Mr. Smith’s Atlanta dealings. That sounds kind of serious. In any event, please turn out to Select-A-Seat on Saturday to show support. Here’s his quote:

“Loved that job … but this is more important.”

They are old buddies from Michigan so it not sure how much to read into that.

Barry

May 17th, 2011
6:12 pm

So why would a guy from Detroit be interested in buying the Thrashers? Also why is Chris Viv giving us all a flashing neon CAUTION sign?

I don’t care who buys this team as long as A) Kept in Atlanta…a MUST…nothing else will be acceptable. B) Run MUCH better than what the ASG clowns did with running this hockey franchise 6 feet under.

the third

May 17th, 2011
6:13 pm

if this can be messed, ASG will find a way

glovesave29

May 17th, 2011
6:16 pm

If for no other reason than an interested party in keeping the team here slows the process with True North to allow the NHL to do it’s due dilligence – then we win. If the league sees there is an opportunity to keep the team here, they will exhaust all options.

moriler

May 17th, 2011
6:17 pm

Interesting. If Smith is actually offering anything close to what the franchise is worth, then Bettman will have something to hang his hat on and tell ASG that they won’t approve the sale to TNSE (and he should want them around anyway, just in case Phoenix — way more unstable — falls through!).

If there were truly no offers, then Bettman wouldn’t have a leg to stand on — he can’t prevent the sale outright, and if the _only_ buyer is TNSE, then of course it has to happen. But as long as there are groups making reasonable inquiries, then there’s leverage to be had to make the ASG sell at a fair price. As others have noted, even though Bettman would like the $60M to cover the losses in Phoenix, he also shares no love at all for Brucie and the rest of the Atlanta Diaper Group; if he thinks TNSE will still be able to buy Phoenix (ie Glendale flakes… again), then he might well stick Brucie good one last time.

Have to wait and see.

Peter Puck

May 17th, 2011
6:25 pm

If the Thrashers are sold to a buyer committed to staying in Atlanta, I will buy season tickets within minutes following Waddell’s termination. Fair or not, he’s the symbol of everything wrong with the product.

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 17th, 2011
6:30 pm

@Peter Puck
I do not think that you would be able to do it that quickly.
There would be too many people in line in front of you!!!!

kreedham

May 17th, 2011
6:33 pm

If the Thrashers end up in Winnipeg maybe another ownership group can buy the Coyotes and moved them to Atlanta….I mean Phoenix should be the one to move to Canada not us!

HillMan

May 17th, 2011
6:41 pm

Since we know that these ASG jerks have one foot out the door, let’s show new owners this town will support the team. I have renewed my season tickets and suggest everyone who wants to keep the Thrashers in the ATL sign up tomorrow.
I don’t see a downside to signing up. If the team leaves, i get my money back. If we sellout the place and the ASG changes their mind, they look like the idiots they are and if they sell to a new owner who has a sold out building – they still look like the idiots they are!

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 17th, 2011
6:42 pm

Why do I have to go to Winnepeg papers to get information from CViv? The article quotes Vivlamore stating that the groups (including JB Smith) supposedly trying to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta are not credible.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Local-Thrasher-suitors-discredited-122065019.html

EA

May 17th, 2011
6:44 pm

Just and idea, if you all are serious about season tickets if there is new ownership, you could go to the Thrashers Select a Seat on Saturday in numbers. It may send a message.

glovesave29

May 17th, 2011
6:45 pm

Chris does not consider them a viable option because he did not break the story.

EA

May 17th, 2011
6:46 pm

It is so obvious C Viv and Kincade have some kind of problem with each other.

HillMan

May 17th, 2011
6:46 pm

Let’s go ATL 15,500 sold season tickets would send the NHL a message that they couldn’t sell more tickets in the PEG.

EA

May 17th, 2011
6:47 pm

It is $999.00 for the lower bowl. Come on!!!

boults stays

May 17th, 2011
6:51 pm

c-viv and kincade should be on the same team, but they aren’t.

HillMan

May 17th, 2011
6:51 pm

I know I have given friends and family tickets over the years. I am calling them and asking them to make a commitment to keep the Trash here. I hope to double my season ticket order by asking these folks to (a) buy their own season tickets, or (b) commit to pay for atleast 10 games next season.

Come on season ticketholders. We should all try to double/triple our order.

glovesave29

May 17th, 2011
6:54 pm

Seems as though the Winnipeg offer is contingent on getting financial help from the Manitoba government…

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/True-North-seeking-debt-help-from-govt-in-NHL-bid-122067534.html

Now awaiting for Chris “Benedict Arnold” Vivlamore to come pee in our cornflakes again

R. Stroz

May 17th, 2011
6:56 pm

Don’t look now but the Spirit Clowns have intentionally placed a road block in front of keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta. I hope these guys become born again virgins in hell for bin Laden.

http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-hawks/spirit-also-pursuing-hawks-949288.html

It’s time for the NBA and NHL to step in together and put the screws to the ASG.

Nate

May 17th, 2011
7:07 pm

I’m sorry, but I don’t trust Vivlamore anymore. He said there were ZERO local buyers and it emerges today that a local ownership group put in an offer today. It’s not his job to give opinion on whether they are a viable option. The cat is out of the bag for the NHL now. They have said all along that the first option is to keep teams in place. There is a local option now to do just that. The NHL no longer has that caveat to hide behind.

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 17th, 2011
7:16 pm

This “exclusive negotiating rights” bit for the Hawks is crap! Buying all 3 is much more feasible. I wonder if any suitors called asking about a 3 and ASG replied that only the Thrashers were for sale.

EA

May 17th, 2011
7:22 pm

These ASG guys are absolutely beyond belief. They like basketball so the only deal they will accept for the Hawks is to stay here? They don’t care about hockey, so they sell to anybody? Do the fans have any say in this? GBettman@NHL.com