Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will meet with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Friday in New York City to discuss the ownership of the Hawks.
Reed indicated at a press conference last week that he would meet with Silver. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has confirmed the day and location of that meeting.
Reed has pledged his support, including public funding, to help keep the Hawks in Atlanta with the sale of the controlling interest in the team.
Controlling owner Bruce Levenson, who individually owns 24 percent of the Hawks, will sell his share in the franchise following the discovery of a racially inflammatory email he sent in 2012. Reed said Levenson’s business partner Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman, the Washing ton-based owners, will also sell their shares in the team making 50.1 percent of the franchise available.
The fallout of the latest internal discontent of the franchise also has general manager Danny Ferry on an indefinite leave of absence.
The Atlanta group of Michael Gearon Jr. and Sr., Rutherford Seydel and Beau Turner own approximately 30 percent of the Hawks. The remaining 20 percent is owned by a group of New York investors, including Steven Price, who recently put $35 million into the franchise.
“The city is going to play an important role in the buyer who purchases Mr. Levenson’s interest,” Reed said last week. “Obviously, we have a vital interest as the owner of Philips Arena and the holder of the debt on Philips Arena in making sure that we get a terrific partner in the city of Atlanta. We also have an interest in making sure that the new buyer wants to keep the team in the city and in the city. Let me be clear what that means -in the city and in the city. That means that a prospective owner that receives my support, and I believe the support of the Atlanta City Council, will make a long-term commitment to keep the Atlanta Hawks in the city of Atlanta and will make a long-term commitment not to move the franchise. I want to publically state from the city’s perspective that is going to be our perspective to whomever the prospective owners are.”
Reed also said: “My sense is some assistance will be needed from the city of Atlanta in one form or another.” He said the city was willing to use $150-200 million in public funds to keep the Braves in Atlanta. The team has broken ground on a Cobb County stadium. Reed also said money from the sale of the Turner Field property could be used to help the Hawks.
Philips Arena, the Hawks current home, is owned by the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority and operated by the team. The Hawks’ lease requires them to play in Philips until approximately $124 million in bonds – refinanced in 2010 – are paid off, currently scheduled to take place Dec. 1, 2028. A $75 million penalty the team would owe for paying off the bonds early and relocating from the arena is in force until 2017.
A new owner would have to add $200 million to the purchase price to move the team before 2017. There would also be a likely fee due the NBA to relocate, making that scenario unlikely.
One current owner told me the Hawks would move “over my dead body.”
The NBA would also not be in favor of a relocation of the Hawks given that Atlanta is a top-10 market nationally.
In other news:
* Plans by the Ian’s Friends Foundation to honor Ferry on Oct. 25 as part of its annual Evening of Inspiration are said to be “unchanged” according to co-founder Phil Yagoda.
The foundation benefits pediatric brain tumor research.
* Sports Illustrated recently completed its list of the NBA’s top 100 players. Al Horford was 25th and Paul Millsap was 34th. Kyle Korver (74) and Jeff Teague (92) were also on the list.
* Although the Hawks have yet to provide details, training camp will kick off next Monday with media day.