SBD/Issue 145/Franchises

Bob Johnson Vows Not To Move Bobcats, But May Sell To Jordan

Jordan Currently Has One Of The Largest
Minority Owner Shares In Bobcats
Bobcats Owner Bob Johnson yesterday said that he "'absolutely, unequivocally' would never move the team out of Charlotte, but he left open the possibility of selling his majority stake" in the franchise to Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan, according to a front-page piece by Scott Fowler of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Johnson, who reportedly has told team investors to expect losses of about $35M over the next two years, said, "If Michael picked up the phone and said ‘I'm ready to be the Bobcats owner,' I'd be more than happy to talk to him about it. I couldn't think of a better owner to do it. It's really on his timetable, not on my timetable. If he has an interest in doing it, I'm convinced he could put together the economics to do it." Johnson disclosed that he owns slightly more than 70% of the team, which has close to 20 minority partners. Johnson noted that Jordan "had one of the largest shares in that group." Johnson also said that he would "be happy to do 'equity switch' with Jordan -- staying on as a minority partner if Jordan became the majority owner -- but that Jordan would have to 'put a lot of capital into that'" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/16). Johnson said Jordan is "not getting paid a plugged nickel" to work for the Bobcats. Johnson: "He draws no salary. Nada. He flies in and out at his own expense. He doesn't submit any expense reports." Meanwhile, Johnson said, "On the business side, next year I think we'll be more credible. We've gotten 20 new corporate sponsors over the past 12 months." Johnson also discussed the Charlotte Jumper Classic, an equestrian event at Time Warner Cable Arena that "took some possible home dates away" from the Bobcats during April. Johnson said, "We think we can choose another date. That will be firmed up in the next few weeks, but it's probably going to be moved to the fall" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/16).

COMMUNITY REAX: At presstime, the Charlotte Observer article has generated 28 comments on the newspaper's Web site. One commenter writes Johnson "won't move the team but if he sold it to the right people it would be gone in a blink." Another commenter said, "Mr. Johnson may or may not move the Bobcats - of course he is going to say he will never move the team. The moment people think the team is going to move, revenues will sink even lower." Yet another commenter writes, "The writing is on the wall relative to Jordan becoming the eventual owner, and that's a good thing. ... MJ has the potential to be a very good owner, and I could see him becoming more beloved for his dedication to the community than his star status IF he spends the time here and lives here." Another wrote the "best move" for the team is to "sell Jordan the majority ownership rights" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 4/16).

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