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SBD/November 5, 2012/Franchises
Robert Pera In First Act As Grizzlies Owner Names Jason Levien CEO
Published November 5, 2012
ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF: In Memphis, Kyle Veazey noted Pera yesterday gave his “first public comments since agreeing earlier this year to buy” the Grizzlies. He and Levien “visited Memphis on March 27, when the Griz played the Timberwolves, and Pera said he sensed the ‘energy’ and the team's meaning to the city.” He said that the feeling “helped sell him not just on the team, but on its potential to make more of a connection.” Pera said, "I have a passion for marketing and branding, but I'm OK if I'm behind the scenes. I'll work on it, but I want to push Memphis, the team, the community and empower Jason to make the decision." He added, "I want to make this the highest-tech stadium in the NBA.” Levien “acknowledged a ‘task’ ahead of ensuring that a wide range of limited partners feel involved in the ownership group, but didn't think it was an unwieldy size.” He will be the “largest shareholder of the group but owns less than 50 percent of the team.” Pera and Levien “sidestepped a question asking for more details of the ownership group, including its size.” Pera said of his commitment to Memphis, "I consider myself a citizen of the world. … I don't really have strong ties to San Jose. What I do have is strong ties to the NBA. I'm really passionate about the NBA and I'm really passionate about changing the world, improving the world.” He added, “I'm passionate about Memphis because it seems like a really cool opportunity for the team to really influence the community, right? And that's up my alley" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/4). Also in Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes under the header, “So Far, The Kid Is All Right.” Youth did not stop the 34-year-old Pera from “stacking up enough money to buy an NBA team in the first place.” And youth “hasn't stopped him from doing a lot of smart things since he entered into the deal.” Calkins: “This could work out beautifully. Young and committed owner, young and committed franchise” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/5).
WINS TAKE CARE OF A LOT: SMC Entertainment President Fred Jones, who was a part of the original ownership group that brought the Grizzlies to Memphis, said that Pera’s ownership has “created a buzz in the community, but fans still care most about the success of the team on the court.” Jones noted that the team “simply needs to stay the course of what it has done with sponsorships and ticket sales.” Jones: “You can’t go wrong with stars like Justin, Penny and Peyton, but at the end of the day, what really excites the city is how the team performs on the floor. Ownership is good, but it’s about the product.” In Memphis, Michael Sheffield notes the Grizzlies have sold around 1,200 new season-tickets this season and have an “estimated 90 percent renewal rate for existing season tickets” (MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/2 issue).