The Atlanta Hawks agreed to sell their team to a Tony Ressler-led group for almost $850 million, per multiple reports.
Ares Management co-founder Tony Ressler and his group are purchasing the Atlanta Hawks.
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The Hawks issued a press release on the deveolopment on their official website on April 22:
"The Atlanta Hawks today announced that a definitve agreement has been signed for the purchase of the NBA franchise by an ownership group led by Tony Ressler, co-founder of Ares Management.
"The group also includes seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill, Clayton Dubillier & Rice partner Rick Schnall, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzier, who are married.
"The transaction, which includes operation of Phillips Arena, requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. Terms of the sale were not released."
Ressler told the Hawks' official website he and his partners couldn't be more thrilled with the acquisition:
"We are honored and thrilled to have been chosen to become the new stewards of the Hawks. 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."
For his part, Hawks CEO Steve Koonin told the team's official website he and his camp are just as excited:
"We are excited to welcome this new ownership group and are deeply gratified by its commitment to the Hawks and the Atlanta community. We are pleased that the group is committed to continue building on the franchise's storied history and recent success."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed the agreement between the two sides on Wednesday. The purchase amount is "believed to be less than $1 billion," per the update. More precisely, it is believed to be somewhere in the $750 million range but that could still go up or down.
Foley and Lardner sports attorney Irwin Raij told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution $850 million would be a good value for the Hawks:
"Eight hundred and fifty million is a good price for this team. Putting it into context, not that long ago you could buy a piece of the Hawks at an enterprise value below 400 million. Although the Atlanta media market has certain strengths, the team has a checkered level of success at the box office."
ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz says the sale of the Hawks "will be financed by cash and assumption of some debt, sources said."
Arnovitz adds Koonin and head coach Mike Budenholzer, who won the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year Award on Tuesday, are both in Ressler's group's long-term plans, ciitng a source who told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.
Budeznholzer told the media on Wednesday he is aware of his team's sale but is more focused on the current playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, per Arnovitz:
"I think everyone is very, very respectful that today we have Game 2 of the first round and that our focus is on the game.
"I'm fully aware of a lot of things that are going on around us, but there's nothing I have to do besides prepare for tonight and make sure our team is prepared and focused."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution update says the NBA Board of Governors must approve the deal for it to become official.
The 55-year-old Ressler, a philanthropist, will be the majority owner, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Aside from Ares Management, he also co-founded Apollo Global Management and is a minority owner of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers.
Forbes Magazine's Agustino Fontevecchia estimates Ressler's net worth to be around $1.43 billion.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ressler has begun establishing ties with current members of the Hawks organization. Hill, who suited up for the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers in his NBA career, "will have a primary leadership role in the franchise," per the update.
Hill was spotted at Phillips Arena offices earlier this week. He will work closely with Ressler, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Two other groups were considered for the sale: Memphis Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan's group and Lionsgate Entertainment's Mark Rachesky's group.
Arnovitz stresses the Hawks went on the market in Jan. 2015 after a controversial 2012 email from principal owner Bruce Levenson saying African-Americans in attendance at home games were driving away more prominent and affluent white fans.
"My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base," Levenson wrote in the email (via ESPN).
Arnovitz says Levenson and Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, who made some racially-insensitive comments during a conference call last year, were "effectively forced into exile."
Paul Millsap led a balanced scoring attack with 19 points on 4-for-4 shooting from three-point distance to propel the Hawks to a 96-91 Game 2 victory and a 2-0 series lead over the Nets on April 22. Jarrett Jack led Brooklyn with 23 points.
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