ATLANTA (AP) – The Atlanta Hawks are on the market. The NBA team s owners said on Thursday they have unanimously approved a plan to sell all shares. The sale would include operating rights to Philips Arena, the Hawks home.
The sale “will commence immediately,” and the team is expected to remain in Atlanta. Mayor Kasim Reed has said the city might offer concessions to any new owner to ensure the Hawks commit to remaining in Atlanta for another 30 years. The Hawks would have to pay a $75 million early termination fee if they leave Philips Arena before the 2018-19 season.
Hawks chief executive officer Steve Koonin had no comment. The announcement was expected following reports last week the full ownership group would join co-owners Bruce Levenson and his Washington partner, Ed Peskowitz, in the sale. Levenson and Peskowitz control 50.1 percent of the team.
The ownership group has reason to believe the market is ripe for a big profit. The Los Angeles Clippers, estimated by Forbes one year ago to be worth $575 million, sold for $2 billion last year.
The bottom value for a franchise may have been set when the Milwaukee Bucks sold for about $550 million last year. Forbes valued the Hawks at $425 million before the sale of the Clippers and Bucks.
The group bought the Hawks, NHL Thrashers and operating rights to Philips Arena for $250 million in 2004. The Thrashers were sold for $170 million in 2011 and relocated to Winnipeg as the Jets.
Based on the Hawks play, the timing for a sale couldn t be better. Attendance is up with the Hawks off to their best start in franchise history and holding the best record in the Eastern Conference at 27-8.