SBD/March 30, 2012/Franchises

Grizzlies Owner Heisley Stops Negotiations With Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Heisley said he tells potential buyers that Grizzlies' arena lease is rigid
Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley has "instructed his attorney, Stan Meadows, to stop negotiating" the sale of the team with Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison, according to a front-page piece by Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Heisley said that Ellison's representatives "made repeated overtures about moving the Grizzlies." Heisley: "We're not even considering Ellison. This team cannot be moved." Heisley is asking $350M for the Grizzlies and said that he "makes it clear with potential buyers that the team's arena lease with the city and county is rigid." Heisley acknowledged that there is one other person "looking at the prospect of buying the team, but he expressed skepticism." Heisley: "I don't know if he's serious. I think I'll own the team for a while" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 3/30). In Memphis, Michael Sheffield noted the team’s contracts with the city are "strong enough to keep it here at least" through '21. Heisley said, "That’s more than enough time for fans to show the league this is a good market. If it’s a good market, people won’t get permission to relocate the team. The league doesn’t relocate teams that are doing well. They relocate teams that are doing poorly." Heisley also noted that the "bottom line on revenue sharing is that the Grizzlies could receive an annual boost" of around $20M kicked in from all of the league’s teams (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/29). A Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL editorial states, "Bottom line: We don't want the Grizzlies to be stuck in Memphis; we want them to succeed here." This is about a "civic asset we can't afford to take for granted." The editorial: "Memphis would be a poorer place without the Grizzlies. They deserve our support." They have "earned it" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 3/30).
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