Collapse of Hawks’ sale is just one more Spirit nightmare

Alex Meruelo is out as potential Hawks owner, which means ...

Alex Meruelo is out as Hawks' owner. That means ...

(Updated at 5:45 p.m.)

The only thing worse than bad ownership in professional sports is uncertain ownership. We have been cursed with both.

The sale of the Hawks from the Atlanta Spirit to Alex Meruelo has gone from in danger of falling apart to officially dead. Our Tim Tucker reports that the deal was terminated by mutual agreement.

This is what it means to you: There is nobody minding the office. Not Meruelo, who presumably never had the funding and/or wouldn’t provide the financial guarantees as laid out by the NBA to purchase a franchise, his claims to the contrary not withstanding. His purchase was announced Aug. 7. The dissolution of deal was revealed 89 days later on Nov. 4. This lasted only slightly

... These guys are back running the show.

... These guys are back running the show.

longer than a Kim Kardashian marriage (72 days) — the only problem being that most consider this closer to real life.

Not the Atlanta Spirit. They weaseled out of NHL ownership and sent the Thrashers to Winnipeg, and now they’re looking to liquidate themselves of the Hawks and Philips Arena’s operating rights so they can get out of the sports business.

Not even Hawks’ employees, who aren’t in a position to make decisions because they don’t know who their boss is or what

Kim Kardashian's marriage to Kris Humphries lasted nearly as long as Meruelo's tentative ownership.

Kim Kardashian's marriage to Kris Humphries lasted nearly as long as Meruelo's "ownership."

their boss wants.

One of the Spirit’s partners, Bruce Levenson, released a statement, saying: “The Atlanta Hawks are no longer for sale. We’re excited to remain as owners of the Hawks and are committed to building on our string of four straight playoff appearances.”

And why shouldn’t we believe Levenson? Doesn’t he always speak the truth?

(Pause for effect.)

And if you were trying to sell a property, wouldn’t you be “excited” when that deal fell apart?

(Pause again.)

The Spirit basically has gone from bad ownership to relative absentee ownership because their primary objective now is to sell the team, not improve it.

Granted, the NBA is in a lockout, and there is no sign of that ending any time soon. The league already has canceled a month’s worth of games. In that sense, a case could be made that the Hawks haven’t lost any ground during this expanded offseason. But other NBA teams can at least look at their roster, their payroll and their coaching staff and plan for the future. They can prepare themselves for next season under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Hawks? Well, imagine that you owned a team and you were looking to sell it. Your focus would be on finding a buyer, cutting overhead and maybe dusting the office furniture  and vacuuming the rugs for any interested party who wanted to give the place the once over. It certainly wouldn’t be in investing time, money and resources to improve the product or cater to the fan base.

The problems created by Meruelo’s exit are compounded by a depressed economy, one that is thin on potential sports owners and ownership groups. It follows that Levenson, Michael Gearon, et. al. likely will continue in the executive suite for sometime. The Atlanta Spirit’s attempts to leave have become as big a headache as their attempt at sports ownership.

It’s the nightmare that won’t end.

By Jeff Schultz

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168 comments Add your comment

dumb

November 4th, 2011
5:13 pm

not gonna do it

sowega

November 4th, 2011
5:16 pm

Sad state of affairs for what should be a rock solid franchise in a cith the size of Atlanta

sowega

November 4th, 2011
5:16 pm

I meant city

ryan

November 4th, 2011
5:20 pm

What a crock of Sh!t i am no longer a Hawks fan don’t care if they move to St. Louis ASG can go to strait to hell .

tckr83

November 4th, 2011
5:20 pm

Atlanta Hawks… the Los Angeles Dodger of the NBA. Sell the team ASG, the fans (those left anyway) hate you!

Hawks

November 4th, 2011
5:22 pm

Hopefully someone with adequate $$$ will buy 100% from these bozos. Muruelo was only a positive if he had cash and bought 100%, neither of which was case. Next buyer may need to buy from bankruptcy trustee. How long until next lawsuit among the various ASG owners. If this ultimately causes complete divestment quicker it is a blessing. Dont believe ” The Hawks are not for sale!” for a moment. If there is anything we know about ASG it is that they are proven habitual liars.

John

November 4th, 2011
5:22 pm

Liberty Media and the Atlanta Spirit need to get out of town. They are causing nothing but problems for the Braves and Hawks.

wxwax

November 4th, 2011
5:23 pm

This is good news, not bad news.

The last thing the Hawks need is another under-funded owner.

If Meruelo doesn’t have enough bucks to satisfy the NBA, then it’s a good thing he won’t own the team. Be happy, not sad.

lewis

November 4th, 2011
5:23 pm

i hate spirit group

tckr83

November 4th, 2011
5:23 pm

Seriously, the NBA has to do something about this… don’t they? Stick Will Ferrell in the lineup and call us the Atlanta Tropics… this is ridiculous. Talk about an ownership that is absolutely ruining a professional franchise in a state/city that loves basketball. Words can’t describe my feelings right now!

Paul From Milton

November 4th, 2011
5:25 pm

I think the future sale depends on where the revenue split ultimately falls. If it is such that it provides a good ROI and cash flow then the Hawks should sell pretty quickly. Otherwise, look for a lot more pictures of the ASG.

Spyro

November 4th, 2011
5:25 pm

Let me repeat what I said on the other blog:

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

wxwax

November 4th, 2011
5:26 pm

Let the Spirit find a buyer who can actually afford to run an NBA team.

I’m glad the league is setting a high threshold. While this may look bad right now, it is in fact good for the future stability of the Hawks.

The league is making sure the next owner of the Hawks will be rich enough to actually make the team competitive. We don’t need more penny-pinchers.

Atlantas Air Farce

November 4th, 2011
5:26 pm

The Hawks should be sold at auction on the Fulton County courthouse steps like so many other properties in this state.

5 Time National Champs Nebraska

November 4th, 2011
5:28 pm

I’m glad I’m not a basketball fan or I would be furious.

ryan

November 4th, 2011
5:28 pm

Atlanta has has worst owners it just seems like nothing will ever change we are stuck while other teams make big moves just have same old same old .

wxwax

November 4th, 2011
5:30 pm

Why is everyone so angry that a potential bad owner has been axed?

If Meruelo was going to be under-funded and couldn’t support that Hawks properly, what makes him better than the Spirit?

I don’t get it. He was no better than the Spirit.

GT Alum

November 4th, 2011
5:30 pm

Well, so far, they’re saying the Hawks are no longer for sale. Kinda like they told us the Hawks weren’t for sale before they announced this agreement. And how they did everything to keep the Thrashers in town.

That picture should be captioned Larry, Moe And Curly.

GT Alum

November 4th, 2011
5:37 pm

Wxwax – People are just frustrated at the setback. I haven’t seen anyone complaining that the NBA was wrong to axe the sale, just frustration at not being rid of ASG. It’s not like they have the money (or the intelligence) to run a sports franchise.

Davey

November 4th, 2011
5:39 pm

The best action Atlanta Fans can take….

Non-Occupancy Phillip’s Arena!!!!!!

That is whenever the lockout ends or this team is sold.

Ha-Ha

KSU Alum

November 4th, 2011
5:43 pm

NOOOOOOOO!!!!1!1!!!

When, God? When will you free us from these evil, franchise-destroying bastards?

Vol4ever

November 4th, 2011
5:43 pm

IM done after 30 years…….enough with all this crap with the Hawks, year after year of BS and the last 5 have been the worst. I have better things to do starting this winter…..they wont be playing in 2011 anyway.

glacialspeed

November 4th, 2011
5:44 pm

FIRE LIBERTY MEDIA!!!!

ryan

November 4th, 2011
5:46 pm

Go Falcons screw the other teams .

Harry Hawk

November 4th, 2011
5:46 pm

I knew these buffoons would still be owning the team as soon as there were issues with the sale.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hawks moved. That’s how bad Atlanta Spirit Group, LLC. has been for Atlanta. I mean, how the hell can any Hawks fan who isn’t high on chemicals feel excited about this team? Read this tripe:

“The Atlanta Hawks are no longer for sale,” Levenson said in a statement. “We’re excited to remain as owners of the Hawks and are committed to building on our string of four straight playoff appearances.”

Ho-ho! The Hawks aren’t up for sale anymore! We wouldn’t dare sell this team. We’re so excited to own this team! Ooooh! Four straight playoff appearances!

Levenson should have said this:

“Bend over and take it.”

Worksoutforme

November 4th, 2011
5:47 pm

My boycott of Philips can continue. I will not set foot in that building until it is owned by someone else. ASG do not deserve any of my money, and I hope they all rot in hell.

Davey

November 4th, 2011
5:47 pm

Philips Arena (Correction)…

Just don’t occupy it.

Heath

November 4th, 2011
5:50 pm

Go Thrashers! And take the Hawks with you!!!

wxwax

November 4th, 2011
5:50 pm

GT Alum — thanks for the explanation. It makes sense!

Bone

November 4th, 2011
5:51 pm

What a total screwup! This city is a total screwup when it comes to professional sports! PLEASE HAVE ALL TEAMS LEAVE THIS CITY AND LET’S START OVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!

Boyz From North Ave

November 4th, 2011
5:53 pm

Lets face it….we gots nowhere to go but UP…..woot.

John

November 4th, 2011
5:58 pm

Well the Hawks weren’t gonna go anywhere anyway if they were sold to Meruelo so I think Meruelo gets the better deal by not having the Hawks to have to deal with.

Hoop Doggy Dog

November 4th, 2011
5:59 pm

LOL at all those people saying Alex MerFAILo was worth $14 billion (probably more like $14 dollars.)

If ASG keeps embarrassing this organization with their poor decision-making skills, we’d be lucky if Jesus Christ brought the team.

Hoop Doggy Dog

November 4th, 2011
5:59 pm

Arthur Blank to the RESCUE!

Jeff Schultz

November 4th, 2011
6:01 pm

Folks, I think I’ve done my final update. This whole process has been just sick.

GT Alum

November 4th, 2011
6:02 pm

Davey -

Looking at the Hawks’ attendance figures, I’d say many fans are already taking that approach, and I’d expect it to continue if the Hawks haven’t been sold by the next time the team plays.

The only concern is that the NBA, ASG and a new owner use low attendance to justify moving the team. It’s not like ASG cares about Atlanta fans, and the NBA has shown they won’t hesitate to let owners who have run their teams into the ground move the team to another city.

"Chef" Tim Dix

November 4th, 2011
6:05 pm

The ASG have found their new minority partner, haven’t you heard?

His name is Joe Johnson.

Bluestreak

November 4th, 2011
6:05 pm

If they can screw something up, they’ll find a way to do it. They can’t even get out of the business without finding a way to stay in.

They all may be great businessmen, but they all look like the business end of a horse they way they can’t handle the sports team(s) right.

Ponzi Scheme

November 4th, 2011
6:05 pm

Occupy Philips Arena

Steve

November 4th, 2011
6:06 pm

Worst ownership in sports a bad gm been fired by seattle dallas and milwaukee lousy unproven coach worst contract in sports johnson and one thats not too far behine williams letting the trashers go who I feel has young talent just needed a gm but the spirit thought waddell was a good gm what a joke. ASP is a joke

tmc

November 4th, 2011
6:06 pm

from the department of the redundancy department:
The Atlanta Spirit screw up something else… Really? really.

extremus

November 4th, 2011
6:08 pm

The Hawks’ failed sale will likely be a small footnote on the gravestone of the NBA. Ah, at this point who really cares about the NBA as a whole anymore; the entire league is dead where I’m concerned, and they only have themselves and the grossly hedonistic, hip hop culture they’ve nurtured for years to blame. Its death would be welcome and hopefully restore some sense of responsibility and accountability to other pro sports leagues.

Joe Bob Friday

November 4th, 2011
6:08 pm

Great news! This means the Spirit Squad gets to eat more losses while Phillips sits empty. You reap what you sow, Levenson/Gearon/et al

Patrick

November 4th, 2011
6:08 pm

Well, there goes any opportunity I had to see a game this year at Phillips Arena, as I’m NOT going to any events owned by these pieces of you know what who ruined hockey here.

Davey

November 4th, 2011
6:09 pm

GT Alum -

Thanks for the response. Moving the team would be a sad day for the city. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Losing two NHL teams over the years is enough.

You’ve probably heard me say it before and I’ll say it again:

This ASG has been the most dysfunctional yet fully operational group I’ve ever seen.

baffled

November 4th, 2011
6:13 pm

How can Levenson and cry baby Gearon think that they can own the Hawks after costing the city a major professional sports franchise? Are they expecting to just sit courtside and have everyone else in the building (to the extent there’s anyone willing to buy a Hawks ticket from them) act like they don’t deserve our derision?

BigdaddyJ

November 4th, 2011
6:15 pm

Love the comment -”we are looking forward to extending our playoff streak”. Really? How about trying for a title? They trashed the Thrashers and now we are stuck with them. I rather the Hawks move than have to support anything the Spirit Group has to offer.

Ted M

November 4th, 2011
6:24 pm

Wow, now I really want to see the NBA cancel the season. Atlanta sports are cursed.

Can anybody…Jeff…anybody make my day?

I would like to know how much money the Atl Spirit has lost (if any). I hope they have lost 10s of millions.

crabbyjacket

November 4th, 2011
6:25 pm

Steve,
Punctuation is your friend.

Big Wally

November 4th, 2011
6:34 pm

Can you say Winnipeg Hawks?