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