Bruce Levenson Sells Atlanta Hawks to Atony Ressler-Grant Hill Group
The Atlanta Hawk owner Bruce Levenson and ownership group are working to complete the deal to sell the Atlanta Hawks to Billionaire equity and investment fund manager Antony Ressler.
In addition to Antony Ressler, the purchasing group includes the co-founder of Marquis Jet, Jesse Itzler, former NBA player Grant Hill, Clayton Dubliner & Rice partner Rick Schnall, ITzler’s wife and Spandx founder Sara Blakely, and BTIG co-founder Steven Starker.
Levenson is an all around American businessman. He co-founded United Communications Group in 1977. Also he is an active participant in various philanthropic organizations like Hoop Dreams Foundation and Community Foundation of Washington, D.C. He is the former president of the Washington chapter of the I Have a Dream Foundation, which helps low-income kids pursue higher education.
The final hurdle to the sale will be getting the NBA owners approval. They just need a majority vote in order to finalize the sale, which is expected to happen.
The Hawks recently had a press conference to announce the deal to the public.
“We are honored and thrilled to have been chosen to become the new stewards of the Hawks,” Ressler said in a statement. “We respect the NBA’s approval process and, accordingly, can say no more other than we are incredibly excited by the Hawks’ success and wish them luck in the playoffs.”
The entire process is expected to take until June to finalize. The deal was completed and the sale process began in September.
The team will retain Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and coach Mike Budenholzer. They are apart of a long term success plan for the future of the organization. This is good news for the Hawks because they were seeded top in their division last season and will need their leadership for repeated success in the future.
Levenson with partners agreed to purchase the Hawks, the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and operating rights to Philips Arena for $250 million in 2004. In 2011, they sold the Thrashers for $170 million, which relocated to Winnipeg. The final sales price for the Hawks is reported to be $850 million leaving Levenson $770 million in the green for his 2004 investment.
Foley & Lardner sports attire Irwin Raij was not surprised at all at the high sales price stating that the sales price was a strong number for the market.
“The price reflects the strength of the NBA product right now and views as to what they think the market can become,” he said. “This takes into account the national and local media deals and the trend of increasing NBA team valuations. … This price for this team in this market will be viewed positively.”
The Hawks are coming off a strong season with a franchise record high 60 games won. The new groups first goal is to improve attendance. The Hawks were 17th in the league last season. They are negotiating deals with local and national TV stations along with other Fortune 500 companies investments.