Pera Says Grizzlies Were "Strapped" After Purchase, Clarifies Team Is OK With "Burdens"
Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera yesterday said the franchise was "kind of strapped" after his ownership group purchased the team in October '12 because they "were paying for" the franchise's '01 relocation from Vancouver to Memphis, according to Geoff Calkins of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Pera said, "The sponsorship was fully loaded with upfront payments, so we didn’t see that coming in.” Pera later clarified that he “didn’t mean strapped, exactly” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 2/13). Pera said, “Not only are we not thrifty, but we've inherited financial obligations from the previous ownership for moving the team to Memphis, which we're paying, and the FedEx sponsorship, naming rights, that's all front-loaded from (previous owner Michael) Heisley's time. We're perfectly OK with those economic burdens. I just used a bad choice of words. I wanted to illustrate that we're financially committed.” He added, “I don't want to profit off this team at all. I'm not running it as necessarily a business. Definitely I'm prepared to write a check (to cover franchise losses), and I will write a check at the end of the year. And whether I'm worth a billion dollars or 10 billion dollars, I believe creating a great franchise isn't about throwing money.” Meanwhile, Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said of possible plans for a team-owned RSN, “We enjoy our partnership with Fox. We appreciate it. We just think we have a lot of valuable content. Obviously, our ratings are strong, not just here but in surrounding areas. We want to engage the greater community, surrounding areas, and we want to have a more regional following. ... We want to figure out ways to monetize that” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 2/13).