Potential new Hawks’ owner can only be good news

That's a Thrashers' logo behind Michael Gearon and Bruce Levenson. They killed the team.

That's a Thrashers' logo behind Michael Gearon and Bruce Levenson. They killed the team.

There is nothing good about the fact Atlanta has lost its NHL team. There is nothing good about an NBA lockout. But here is one absolute positive that may come out of this summer: The Atlanta Spirit appears close to relative extinction.

According to our Chris Vivlamore and Tim Tucker, a potential buyer has emerged to purchase a majority interest in the Hawks and Philips Arena operating rights. Other potential buyers surfaced in the past several months for all or  specific parts of the three Spirit properties (including the Thrashers, who’ve since been sold and moved to Winnipeg). But there seems to be a greater degree of probability this time.

The potential purchasing process is said to be “moving fast,” according to Vivlamore and Tucker, who quote  people familiar with the talks saying the would-be buyer is “pushing very, very hard.”

A deal wouldn’t necessarily mean that Spirit partners Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon Jr., who’ve contributed to so much sports wreckage in this city, wouldn’t be a part of the new ownership agreement. But if another party has controlling interest, at least it pushes those two and other existing partners into the background.

Owners don’t come with guarantees, any more than athletes or coaches do. But most of us have seen enough from the Levenson-Gearon group since 2004 to know that their exit or even minimizing would be addition by subtraction.

In short, the next person (or group) in charge could not possibly be worse.

It’s too late to save the Thrashers. I’s not to late to give the Hawks some semblance of hope.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

106 comments Add your comment

John

July 20th, 2011
3:15 pm

This is great news. I do want to give Gearon Jr. a little credit though. He is the only member of SPIRIT that appears to care at all about the Hawks.

NCBravesFan

July 20th, 2011
3:17 pm

“A majority interest?” Can the fans take up a collection for a woodchipper to take care of the ASG ownership stake that remains?

(Just kidding.) (I think.)

Sonny Clusters

July 20th, 2011
3:19 pm

Remember this name. Wintes.

Former NHL fan

July 20th, 2011
3:20 pm

As long as the ASG including Gearon and Levenson have any interest in the Hawks or Philips whatsoever, I will not spend a dime or set foot in the arena. If they want to appease atlanta fans they need to totally divest of any interest whatsoever. By the way removing ASG references on the Hawks website is a thinly veiled marketing approach to hide from past deeds. They should be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.

Marquaveous

July 20th, 2011
3:20 pm

Levenson and Gearon couldn’t run a waffle house, and would probably sell it to canada. Hope the new owners actually want to have a sports team, and not just get their name in the paper.

RTR

July 20th, 2011
3:22 pm

Article of the day!!! Incredible Jeff

Displaced Thrashers Fan

July 20th, 2011
3:22 pm

Please, oh please let us finally be rid of the Mickey Mouse Club.

BigTimeTechFan

July 20th, 2011
3:23 pm

One more thing, if I do buy the team I will keep Josh Smith and hire a coach that will make him play to his potential. I will also keep Joe Johnson, Teague, Hortford, and Crawford and the 1st round pick will be starting center.

Bill

July 20th, 2011
3:24 pm

Agreed Jeff time to turn the Spirit out to pasture.Next year I hope the Braves can get out from under the bean counters at Liberty Media.

BigTimeTechFan

July 20th, 2011
3:24 pm

Keith Benson that is

RTR

July 20th, 2011
3:24 pm

To bad we could not move the Hawks to the Gwinnett Arena until the Atlanta Spirit get out of town. I hope this new “purchaser” steps up!

Brude

July 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

Former NHL fan I agree completely with you. Will not go to a Hawks or Dream game or any event in the arena as long as the ASG has any ownership interest. I will go so far as to say I hope the Hawks continue to decline while they have those owners. Not a hater of the team, just a hater of the owners and what they did to the whole state of GA.

BigTimeTechFan

July 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

drmaryb (*_-)

Wrong blog

Thrashers Fan

July 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

I wonder if the Spirit Boys are watching the cancellation of the suites and other tickets packages in a state of panic. The Thrashers fans may have not been a large enough group but they did invest a great deal of money into the Bulb. When you piss them off and sell off their team they most likely will not renew their suites or buy any other tickets to Phillips going further.

Sucks to be you, Bruce.

GTT

July 20th, 2011
3:28 pm

Thrasherfan

July 20th, 2011
3:29 pm

Actually there is something good about an NBA lockout, Jeff. Atlanta Spirit continues to hemorrhage money. I wish them continued failure in everything that they do.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 20th, 2011
3:29 pm

I am excited about new potential owners, since it is long past time for the DASG to go, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it can’t get worse. For all their mismanagement and stupidity, the DASG still has the Hawks in the top 7 in payroll. A new owner who decides to have a fire sale and run things Florida Marlins style would only be a downgrade.

Leery

July 20th, 2011
3:35 pm

Tell me this info isn’t based on something John Kincade said…

Hollywould

July 20th, 2011
3:36 pm

The only reason they are top 7 is the insane contract for zombie man Johnson.

Astro Joe

July 20th, 2011
3:36 pm

Jeff, you’re wrong, you can ALWAYS do worse. That said, I, too, am thrilled by the prospect of a new majority owner… it makes sense that someone would try to purchase a team now, with an assumption that the new NBA CBA will provide pro-owner benefits. But wouldn’t a wise businessperson wait until the labor agreement is in place (with knowledge of future expenses and forecasted profit) before putting pen to paper? Maybe the ASG are offering a “pre-CBA” discount.

blazerdawg

July 20th, 2011
3:39 pm

Greatest Atlantans – MLK, Jr., Asa Candler, Ted Turner, Billy Payne, Andy Young, Margaret Mitchell

Worst Atlantans – Sherman (honorary), Wayne Williams, Beverley Hall, Gearon & Levenson

BFS

July 20th, 2011
3:46 pm

ASG= douche-bags who’s time in Atlanta is hopefully coming to an end soon. Good riddance!

Dave

July 20th, 2011
3:47 pm

I hold out hope that once Glendale, Arizona stops funding the Coyotes, someone will be found who will allow the Spirit stench to clear from Philips and buy that team to bring it here. Those guys are, without exception, the biggest bunch of jackasses I’ve ever met. As a taxpayer I’d like to sue them for how they’ve let Philips Arena fall apart. Nobody should go to a Hawks game until those idiots sell. I wonder how the McDavid ownership would have done by comparison? Nobody seems to mention the hosing HE got, and how the heck did that happen?

Blue

July 20th, 2011
3:49 pm

Encouraged by the news. Discouraged by the possibility of ASG still being involved in any capacity. We need to totally get rid of these bums.

Dave

July 20th, 2011
3:51 pm

I wish heart attacks on everyone of those idiots. Not sudden-death grabbers, but paddles-in-the-back-of-the-ambulance, crash cart and lidocaine drip, defibrillator-involved, screaming and hemorrhaging, long needles jammed through cartilage, pink foam on the lips, furious and expensive medical intervention heart attacks from which they will die anyway. A couple of days of futile lingering would be nice so we can walk by and spit on them while their catheters get infected.

Matt from MN

July 20th, 2011
3:53 pm

I will not support any Arena or Franchise in which ANY member of the ASG has an ownership interest. Never have I wished so badly for things to go horribly wrong for any group of people, more than I have with the ASG. Burn in Hell.

JB in East Point

July 20th, 2011
3:54 pm

Does any one actually go to a Hawks game? I’ve lived my entire 31 years in Atlanta and have never been to a hawks game. In truth, I only know of a few people who have actually gone. You can’t give those tickets away.

Observer

July 20th, 2011
3:54 pm

Hey BigTimeTechFan, we don’t have a 1st round pick to use on a big time Center.

New Owners simply have to be better than the ASG, if not the Hawks will be in more trouble than anyone ever anticipated!

BigTimeTechFan

July 20th, 2011
3:59 pm

Observer – your right, Benson was a second round pick. But he will start anyway, avg 3.5 blocks a game, 10 rebounds, 17 points

GT Alum

July 20th, 2011
3:59 pm

As long as this new buyer has a controlling interest and not just a majority interest, it’s good news. The report also says the new buyer may have partners. If this is just adding a new head or heads to the ASG hydra, it could just make things worse. They cut off one head – is this just 2 new ones growing back in its place?

Marty

July 20th, 2011
4:00 pm

JB in East Point,

I make a pretty good living selling Hawks tickets. Yes, people go to Hawks games and for the big games (Lakers, Heat, Celtics) pay a lot of money for tickets. They have consistently averaged about the middle of the league insofar as attendance.

This is a decent NBA market that would be a GREAT NBA market if the right people were running the place and put a better product on the court.

Seattle Hawks Fan

July 20th, 2011
4:02 pm

I just heard a rumor for a Hawks three way trade with the Magic and 76ers……Orlando gets Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Craig Brackins…… 76ers get Joe Johnson, Daniel Orton……… HAWKS GET DWIGHT HOWARD, Andre Iguodala, and Jodie Meeks! DO IT!

MIke

July 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

I think that they were waiting for 76ers to get sold to gauge how much they want for Hawks and Phillps Arena. But the days of DASG is almost over, like the lockout (NFL that is).

Duston

July 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

I hate the Hawks. please move to Canada.

MIke

July 20th, 2011
4:05 pm

@Seattle Hawks

You know that they cant make any trades during a lockout, but it was a nice thought about it.

steve from Dalton

July 20th, 2011
4:08 pm

ASG should be banned from having ownership in any pro, minor league, semi pro or intramural sports teams. The sooner we get rid of this dumpster fire of ownership the better.

bring back furman bisher

July 20th, 2011
4:16 pm

wreckage? let’s see, when they bought the Hawks from Turner the Hawks had won 13 games. Since then they have spent a ton of money (always high in payroll) and improved the team every year, making the playoffs perenially and outperforming your beloved Falcons and Braves in every way. Just because Levenson told you to shut up once, you can’t remove your personal views and be a sports writer. you are the worst. i doubt that tucker (a real writer) even talks to you.

PMC

July 20th, 2011
4:19 pm

Man I feel sorry for anyone purchasing Joe Johnson’s contract.

Up Yours ASG

July 20th, 2011
4:21 pm

The Spirit Clowns can’t afford the “new” Hawks payroll, plain and simple. As long as the Hawks payroll was near the bottom of the league, which it was for several years under the Spirit Clowns, all was well. Now that the payroll is listed as the seventh highest, the Spirit Clowns want out.

Let NONE in

July 20th, 2011
4:22 pm

ASG and the NHL screwed over Atlanta on the Thrashers deal. I would never give them one cent of my money.

Sage of Bluesland

July 20th, 2011
4:23 pm

One of these commentors is on the ASG’s payroll. Guess which one…

Silly sheep.

Let NONE in

July 20th, 2011
4:23 pm

LOL. Hawks move to Canada.

Let NONE in

July 20th, 2011
4:24 pm

My old Thrashers ticket rep. reads these blogs. Screw you and the ASG.

MIke

July 20th, 2011
4:30 pm

@Let NONE in

Now that is not to happen, NBA will put the break on that quick but then again, they say the same thing about the Sonics (it has been five years since they was sold and three since they left Seattle)

Furman Bisher can stay gone

July 20th, 2011
4:33 pm

I don’t agree with Schultz on any of his UGA rationalization pieces, but he is dead on with this. These fellas haven’t been a complete bomb with the Hawks that’s true…but for the way they handled the Thrashers they deserve to be run out of town on a rail.

Don

July 20th, 2011
4:39 pm

Jeff: How do you really feel?

Harry Hawk

July 20th, 2011
4:39 pm

Well, at least they destroyed hockey in the city. That’s something to remember these boys by.

Lousy m^*@#%*&^%#&s.

Marie

July 20th, 2011
4:42 pm

@JB in East Point — go back to sleep Rip Van Winkle for another 31 years.

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I’m all in favor for the Hawks getting a majority owner as long as it is someone serious about the team like Arthur Blank is with the Falcons. If it’s just some rich dude who wants to spend money so his heirs can have something to do like shall I say it Rankin Smith (please don’t stone me Falcon fans) then this will get us nowhere.

Let NONE in

July 20th, 2011
4:52 pm

There are two people in this city who like the Hawks. Joe Johnson and some guy at the corner of 14th and Peachtree.

cpsman_atlanta

July 20th, 2011
4:55 pm

BOYCOTT ATLANTA SPIRIT!!! PRAY FOR NEW OWNERSHIP!!! And pray that someone actually spends money to bring a NHL team back to Atlanta, which could still happen.