SBD/Issue 185/Franchises

NBA BOG Unanimously Approves Sale Of Wizards To Ted Leonsis

The NBA BOG yesterday "unanimously approved" the sale of the Wizards from the Pollin family to Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis' Lincoln Holdings, "completing the next-to-last step of his takeover of Washington Sports & Entertainment -- which includes the Wizards, Verizon Center and Ticketmaster," according to Michael Lee of the WASHINGTON POST. NBA sources said that the deal in which Leonsis will acquire the remaining 56% stake in WSE from the Pollins is "valued at approximately" $550M, and that the deal is "expected to officially close on Wednesday." Lincoln Holdings as part of the deal also will "absorb the Pollin family's portion of a nearly $250 million debt, rooted largely in the building of the Verizon Center." Lee notes the timing of the move "allows Leonsis to have influence over player selection in the June 24 NBA draft and the free agent signing period, which begins on July 1" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/9).

NO CLOSER TO SALE? S.F. Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto said it is "pretty clear" the Warriors' limited partners would like Oracle CEO Larry Ellison to "own the Warriors." Ratto: "But in doing so, they've let Ellison know that, 'I've got the Commissioner's backing. I don't have to move off my price.'" Ratto added it is "not who is part of the group that matters," but instead how much money Warriors Owner Chris Cohan is "going to get out of this that is going to determine how quickly this happens." Ellison "doesn't want to come off his number and his number is going to shrink if he has got partners." Ratto added of the sale of the team, "Groups are dropping out left and right, so clearly they're not getting this bidding war that they were hoping for" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 6/7).

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