Hawks for sale! Thrashers for sale! But only one stands to exit

At least one of the Spirit's teams is going to be here next year. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

At least one of the Spirit's teams will be here next year. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

According to esteemed colleague Tim Tucker, the Atlanta Spirit — corporate motto: Everything Must Go! — has entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with outgoing San Diego Padres owners John Moores to buy the Hawks and Philips Arena. This is major news. But here we offer a couple of caveats:

• Exclusive negotiating agreements aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially when it concerns the Hawks, the Thrashers and Philips Arena. the Texas car dealer David McDavid had one of those with Time Warner in April 2003, and you see what it got him. (Actually, it got him $281 million from Time Warner after the conglomerate sold the teams and the building to the Spirit instead.)

• That the Spirit has entered into a negotiating agreement with someone who would agree to keep the Hawks in Atlanta — and it’d be pretty hard to uproot Philips Arena and move it to Manitoba — shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the Thrashers’ apparently imminent departure is any less imminent. On the contrary.

The Spirit has now taken the corporate step of separating its teams. So far as we know, there’s no exclusive negotiating agreement in place for anyone regarding the Thrashers. The issue of Atlanta’s hockey club remains as it was 24 hours ago: With no credible buyer willing to take the team and keep it here, the Spirit has begun discussions with True North Sports and Entertainment, which has an arena sitting open in Winnipeg.

The Hawks, as Tucker notes, were never going anywhere: The bonds floated when the arena was being built maintain that the Hawks have to play their home games in Philips until the bonds are paid off — in 2028. There’s no such legal constraint holding the Thrashers here.

Regarding this complicated tale — by now, we should know that anything involving the Spirit will have permutations by the boatload — here’s where we are: The Hawks are staying, though possibly under different ownership, while the Thrashers inch ever closer toward the door.

By Mark Bradley

198 comments Add your comment

Benjamin

May 17th, 2011
6:53 pm

First. And, re: the Thrashers, perhaps “Angriest” applies, as well…

Woody Paige

May 17th, 2011
6:54 pm

Woody Paige

May 17th, 2011
6:55 pm

grumblegrumblegrumble….

mark louis

May 17th, 2011
6:58 pm

I’ll be sorry to see the Thrashers go, but I’ll be very happy to see ASG go. If the Hawks are sold, there may actually be a chance for success.

rusty

May 17th, 2011
7:01 pm

Worst business decision ever? These chuckleheads decision to buy the Hawks and Thrashers.

Steve

May 17th, 2011
7:02 pm

would be fun to rank the Atlanta Spirit among the worst sports owners in professional sports today or in history. they would have to rank right up there in at least the top 2 or 3

Mark Bradley

May 17th, 2011
7:02 pm

I have to admit: I really liked the idea of the Atlanta Spirit owning the teams, as opposed to David McDavid. What was I thinking?

Steve

May 17th, 2011
7:04 pm

A new owner for the Hawks will be greatly appreciated. I just wish Tom Glavine would get John Smoltz and some of the other former Braves together to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta as well. The Thrashers were like Rambo in one of his movies, they were given a mission that was doom to fail.

Mark Bradley

May 17th, 2011
7:04 pm

And kudos, W. Paige.

Najeh Davenpoop

May 17th, 2011
7:05 pm

Hopefully whoever buys the Hawks actually wants to put a winner on the court.

Steve

May 17th, 2011
7:05 pm

yeah they basically drove the spirit right out of atlanta for the thrashers, and to some extent the Hawks

Atlanta Spirit Sucks

May 17th, 2011
7:13 pm

The time has come for the NBA and the NHL to unite and end the “reign of terror” by the ASG.

The leagues must come together, implement their by-laws, and teach the ASG a lesson.

IceColdATLien

May 17th, 2011
7:14 pm

MB, you thought that they actually cared and had their stuff together. Most of us were wrong about that.

I think the only tried and true ownership is a single owner. Not all single owners are good, but just about all groups and corporations screw it up.

drmondo

May 17th, 2011
7:14 pm

All I can say is…GREAT!!!! Let’s get some competent ownership who makes intelligent decisions and is willing to spend $$ on smart moves and real coaches. I think Woody jr did decently in the playoffs but couldn’t get the players to listen and buy into his system because he had little standing and didn’t ever discipline guys like Josh for consistently making stupid decisions. Teague looked good during the playoffs but didn’t get to play a lot during the regular season. Getting coaches on the cheap doesn’t work. Drafting poorly doesn’t work. Signing contracts that make no sense doesn’t work. The buck stops with the owners.
As far as the Thrashers are concerned, they never had any real support from ASG. They were always a sideshow I love good hockey but it was always hard to get behind the Thrashers.

R. Stroz

May 17th, 2011
7:18 pm

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.

Summerteeth

May 17th, 2011
7:19 pm

Good riddance, ASG.

Mgibby

May 17th, 2011
7:19 pm

I, like everybody else, was pleading for the ASG to sell the Hawks, but the news is bittersweet. Living in San Diego, John Moores was a extremely cheap owner and if he keeps it up w/ the Hawks, it would probably be worse than the ASG!!

Nate D

May 17th, 2011
7:30 pm

Keep the Hawks all the way we cant let the hawks leave ATL.

ThrasherFan

May 17th, 2011
7:34 pm

So ASG is purposefully making sure the thrash leave town. Is the NHL now going to step up and try to save a local franchise? Would be hilarious I’d they sold the hawks but the NHL wouldn’t sign off on the thrash to Winnipeg deal.

GSU Eagle

May 17th, 2011
7:35 pm

Where is Bettman? He’s selling us out for a $60mm check. He needs it to pay for the mess in AZ.

wxwax

May 17th, 2011
7:40 pm

Mgibby, that’s exactly what we didn’t want to hear.

Gaaaaah! This poor franchise is doomed to have bad ownership.

Gary

May 17th, 2011
7:43 pm

Actually Moores spent very well on the Padres while he was owner. They won several division titles and the NL in 1998. The Padres payroll was middle of the road, but wasn’t bad. He only got cheap because of his divorce in 2008 and had to sell the team to meet his divorces settlements.

I still won’t believe it until the the Ts are crossed and Is dotted and Moores John Henry is listed on the sale contract.

Mark – what about the notion last night that another group has come forward and put in a serious offer on the Thrashers? Doesn’t the NHL mandate that if a possible local owner is serious in their offer, that the Spirit Group must consider it so as to keep the team from relocating? Seems like I have heard that mandate being used before, particularly with Nashville.

sansho1

May 17th, 2011
7:43 pm

Keeping in mind that there are some die-hard hockey fans here, Winnipeg would love its NHL team in a way Atlanta never could or would.

drmaryb (*_-)

May 17th, 2011
7:45 pm

Please keep both teams in Hotlanta so I can see those big, manly MEN in person!!

Quick, somebody hose me off!!!

lies and spin

May 17th, 2011
7:46 pm

I don’t understand why people keep buying into the spin that the ASG and the NHL are spewing. This lie about how there are no potential buyers willing to keep the Thrashers here is a load of bull. Now…maybe those potential buyers aren’t willing to pay what the ASG wants…but they are willing to buy the team and keep them here. If the NHL really wanted a team in Atlanta, they could force the ASG to sell to a buyer that will keep them here, even if it means they have to take a loss (or big loss) to do it…or they can keep them.

Please stop saying that there are no potential buyers willing to keep the team here. That’s just not true.

R. Stroz

May 17th, 2011
7:47 pm

The two leagues, the NBA and NHL must work together to extricate themselves from the ASG. Both franchises should be given an opportunity to succeed to this city with properly capitalized owners, competent GMs, coaches, and scouting.

None of these owners should ever be allowed to participate in a sports franchise again.

kirkinga

May 17th, 2011
7:48 pm

Moores is rich, but not Ted Turner rich. I’d like to see new ownership, but one with very deep pockets used in conjunction with a burning desire to win championships.

"Chef" Tim Dix

May 17th, 2011
7:51 pm

This vagabon set of owners has to answer to wives. Is this news?

"Chef" Tim Dix

May 17th, 2011
7:56 pm

Jon Kincade is a pimp. The Dickies can buy into the League at a price of their choosing.

section 104

May 17th, 2011
7:57 pm

CAN I GET MY MONEY BACK SINCE THEY ARE SELLING TEAM …. IN 2011 TO 2012 SEASON ….. STUPID OWNERS…

Paddy

May 17th, 2011
8:01 pm

In a few months, I hope the name ASG is never spoken again in Georgia. What a sad chapter in our sports history. If they do remain owners of the Hawks, I hope no one with any sense buys a ticket. Putting money in these guys pockets is unthinkable!

120 hell raiser

May 17th, 2011
8:02 pm

I have to admit: I really liked the idea of the Atlanta Spirit owning the teams, as opposed to David McDavid. What was I thinking?

Mark, i would not be too hard on yourself on this one. It really never seemed like Mc David knew what he was doing, He had no sports background he seemed short on cash from the beginning, which caused the deal to drag on for months and months. And to top it off he was going to have his “son law” to run the teams. It seemed like Rankin Smith all over again. Given the loses the spirit had I think he would be out of business a lot quicker than even the spirit boys. Frankly Time Warner screwing him over was the best thing that ever happened to the man.

Hey Marcel

May 17th, 2011
8:06 pm

Feel that cool weather………………must be time for a little roundball………..!!

Double Zero Eight

May 17th, 2011
8:09 pm

The sale should have never been approved for ASG.
We would have been much better off with McDavid!
ASG is a bunch of “WANNA BE:” knuckleheads.

steve

May 17th, 2011
8:25 pm

The true irony in all this is that when belkin split after the joe johnson situation, prevailing sentiment seemed to be against him and for the remaining owners to retain control.

Man, talk about wanting a mulligan (and on a couple holes at that).

Bart

May 17th, 2011
8:27 pm

Fair warning to anyone who only buys the Hawks & arena rights while letting the Thrashers leave: I will not support the Hawks or any other event in Philips in that situation, and I’ll boycott the products/services of their sponsors. You’ll be little better than the ASG that ran the teams into the ground if you sit by and idly watch the Thrashers relocate . Buy all three or else find a partner to buy the Thrashers; someone may be willing to work with you to share the arena and its income where they wouldn’t do so with ASG.

Brad McBradley

May 17th, 2011
8:29 pm

The members of the ASG should be run out of town. They touted themselves as a group committed to Atlanta as opposed to McDavid the Texan. Atlanta gets a bad enough rap from ESPN and the national media and now these jokers have run the Thrashers so badly that Atlanta pro sports will be ridiculed once again for losing a second NHL franchise.

jim

May 17th, 2011
8:31 pm

Several have said it already – Glad to see the Hawks sold, even if it means the Thrashers leave. The Spirit group have trampled on both teams and new ownership is more than needed. Short term pain = long term gain for the city and the fans of the Hawks. Maybe even the Thrashers fans – put them out of their misery.

ryan

May 17th, 2011
8:32 pm

Why can’t we get a rich Russian to .

Theron Sapp

May 17th, 2011
8:35 pm

So who’s the pinhead who wrote the lease tying the basketball team to Atlanta, but not the hockey team?

Guffman

May 17th, 2011
8:35 pm

No local group can really buy the Thrashers now on such short notice, especially since they won’t be able to properly negotiate arena rent terms given that the building is up for sale.

The NHL Needs To Be Called Out

May 17th, 2011
8:36 pm

They have done NOTHING to help us keep the Thrashers in Atlanta.

http://www.keepthethrashers.com//videokeepthrashersreally.html

OHL

May 17th, 2011
8:42 pm

Sorry Atlanta but Winnipeg seems to be closer and closer by the minute to getting a team again. You can say that you were doomed to fail due to ownership or anything else but it’s going to come down to where the best hockey market resides. Right now I would say that is Winnipeg and they have an owner willing to spend. Cities like Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Boston and so on will always put you in a negative light when it comes to the US hockey markets, so the team if going to be moved unless you pony up like Glendale which I don’t see happening.

Worm

May 17th, 2011
8:43 pm

The hawks should go back to St. Louis..who cares?

slydog6000

May 17th, 2011
8:45 pm

We should all be wary of John Moores potential ownership of the Hawks. The only reason he no longer owns the Padres is because of his divorce in 2008. This caused the trades of Jake Peavey and Adrien Gonzalez, as well as the current “youth movement” with the team in general. Does the McCourt divorce out in L.A. come to mind? While it was not as messy, we all know how fresh divorces go at first. However, his tight pockets might facilitate getting rid of “THE BAD CONTRACT” and other expensive, non-productive assets. Besides, any ownership other than the smorgasboard of ASG is most welcome.

slydog6000

May 17th, 2011
8:49 pm

Another thing too: the McDavid deal was all about the Braves and a tax write off for Liberty Media Group.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution:  Hawks for sale!  Thrashers for sale!  But only one stands to exit. [...]

Just Me

May 17th, 2011
8:51 pm

WHO cares? ICE will don’t last in the SOUTH and any BRO can play the CHEAP game of Basketball in da hood.

I hate the Hawks

May 17th, 2011
8:51 pm

Can’t we just get rid of the Hawks and keep the Thrashers? Hawks suck!! Please leave Atlanta before 2028 so the world will be a better place?

duh

May 17th, 2011
8:52 pm

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz… where is schultz?