Happy days could be here again for basketball fans in the ATL, as the Atlanta Hawks sell a majority stake in the franchise to Alex Meruelo, a Los Angeles area-based businessman.
In well documented and publicized battles, the previous ownership group, Atlanta Spirit, LLC, essentially ran the franchise amuck because they could never settle their legal and internal differences for the good and betterment of the franchise.
The value of the Hawks dropped 4 percent last year to $295 million, the seventh-lowest among the NBA’s 30 teams, Forbes magazine said in January. Atlanta had an operating loss of $7.3 million on sales of $105 million, according to the magazine. Attendance at games ranked 22nd in the league last season.
The transaction ends Atlanta Spirit LLC’s involvement in major-league sports in the Georgia city. In May, the group completed the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to a company that moved the National Hockey League team to Winnipeg and renamed it the Jets. Atlanta Spirit bought the Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena from Time Warner Inc. (TWX) for $250 million in 2004.
Meruelo, 48, is the founder and owner of a closely held company that owns pizza restaurants, construction firms, real estate, a Los Angeles television station and a Nevada casino and hotel.