SBD/Issue 235/Franchises

Atlanta Spirit Hires Goldman Sachs To Search For Investors

Atlanta Spirit Owners Have Suffered
$20M In Annual Losses Since '05
Hawks and Thrashers ownership group Atlanta Spirit has "retained Goldman Sachs to bring in outside investors after suffering" $20M in annual losses since '05, according to John Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Atlanta Spirit co-Owner Michael Gearon Jr. confirmed that the group has hired Goldman "primarily to bring in minority investors and to financially restructure the team's ownership of the two teams and operating rights" of Philips Arena. Gearon: "We went to Goldman and asked them to handle this. ... We're really trying to evaluate everything and see what makes sense. We're going to look at any opportunity that presents itself and try to make a smart financial decision." Gearon said that the group has "no plans to sell the franchises, but he did not discount selling either team if the price is right." Gearon: "If someone comes at us with a crazy price, then you'd have to consider (selling). But that hasn't been the goal in working with Goldman." Lombardo noted the eight-member ownership group since '05 has been "shouldering steep operating losses reaching nearly" $100M. Though Gearon said that he "expects operating losses to slow," the group also has incurred some $15M in "legal costs related to its court battle with" estranged co-Owner Steve Belkin (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/24 issue).

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