SBD/February 17, 2011/Franchises

Thrashers Co-Owner Gearon Working To Keep Team In Atlanta

Thrashers continue to struggle to draw fans despite improved on-ice product

Atlanta Spirit co-Owner Michael Gearon yesterday said he has "zero interest" in relinquishing his ownership stake in the Thrashers, and added his "primary interest is being sure that we have a strong ownership group with strong financial backing that can support and make the Thrashers successful in Atlanta." Gearon previously said he felt a "sense of urgency" to find additional investors or a buyer for the team. But on Atlanta's WCNN-AM's "Buck & Kincade" show he said he did not want to give the impression that "we've hit the panic button, because that's not where we are right now." Gearon: "I have no intentions of moving this team out of town, and that's why I think that it's important, now that once we've managed to be in a position to talk publicly about this, to try to appeal to our fans and people in Atlanta. ... In an ideal situation it would be great if we had other people in Atlanta that were willing to jump on this with us and be a part of it." He added, "The goal here is to strengthen our investor group. ... We're in a position now where, ideally, we certainly need more fan support. And then from an investor standpoint, we've been writing checks for the Thrashers for over seven years, and it's a lot of money" ("Buck & Kincade," WCNN-AM,  2/16). In Atlanta, Vivlamore & Stafford cite a source as saying that there is "no buyer currently lined up to purchase the Thrashers" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/17).

SKIPPING TOWN? In Atlanta, Mark Bradley wrote the city is "very close to losing another hockey club." Perhaps some "angel is willing to lose millions to keep this money-losing team in place, but it’s more likely the Spirit’s mismanagement has ruined Atlanta as a hockey market." The ownership group "is to blame for not fostering the belief that money spent to watch its teams will yield rewarding entertainment" (, 2/16).


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