Tag: Atlanta Hawks

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Thrashers announcement probably won’t come by Tuesday, Hawks exclusivity window closes

As Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said, it seems like it will just be a matter of time before we hear an official announcement that the Atlanta Thrashers will relocate to Winnipeg. Earlier today, Joe passed along word that the final potential local owner who could keep the Thrashers in Atlanta is fading from the picture. Here are two more updates on that situation.

  • Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it’s “safe to say” that an announcement regarding the deal won’t come by Tuesday. True North and the Atlanta Spirit already reportedly agreed to a $170 million price tag (with $60 million going to the NHL as a relocation fee), but there are still a few hurdles to clear. Vivlamore points out that Monday is Queen Victoria Day in Canada, a bank holiday that probably stood in the way of certain elements being completed.

There are still a few things to sort out, perhaps most notably being an affirmative vote by the NHL Board of Governors. Whether an announcement comes Tuesday, later this week or any other time, we’ll keep you updated.

  • As we’ve mentioned before, the chances of a local group keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta keep getting slimmer. There is a small nugget of decent news for people keeping the dream alive, though.

The Atlanta Spirit and San Diego Padres owner John Moores closed their window of exclusivity regarding the sale of the Atlanta Hawks, according to Tim Tucker. The closing of that window opens up the possibility of a buyer gobbling up a package deal that would include the Thrashers, Hawks and the home of both teams: Phillips Arena.

Making such a deal might produce a better chance to produce profits than owning the Thrashers alone, but Tucker reports that the Atlanta Spirit said that a qualified buyer hasn’t emerged to purchase all three entities. (Obviously the entire package deal would be prohibitively expensive and arguably an even bigger risk for an ownership group.)


The lifting of that exclusivity window can allow people to hope for a last minute miracle, but logic still points to a Thrashers move. Stick with PHT for updates on this situation as it heats up this week (and beyond).

Thrashers update: Local interest exposed, True North seeks Winnipeg’s help with debt

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The latest round of news revolving around the potential relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers reveals some not-so-great reports for both sides. Unfortunately for Thrashers fans, the outlook continues to be pretty grim on their end.

Many Thrashers fans attached some hope to a potential new local owner nicknamed “The Balkan.” That previously shadowy figure was revealed to be Detroit-arena venture capitalist JB Smith. Smith is reportedly interested in a package deal that would include the Thrashers, Atlanta Hawks and Phillips Arena. Unfortunately, various reports indicate that he might not have the cash to swing such a deal.

Beyond that, there is the rather thorny issue that the Atlanta Spirit group allowed San Diego Padres owner John Moores an exclusive window to buy the Hawks and Phillips Arena without the Thrashers. That same report indicates that Moores and the Atlanta Spirit still have a way to go to make a deal in that area, if it even gets done.

Based on recent evidence, it sounds like it would be awfully difficult to find a viable owner to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta, at least in time to satisfy the Atlanta Spirit group. Keep in mind this situation is still far from decided, though.

The last bit of news is that True North is asking for some government help to free up money to buy the Thrashers. True North hopes to free up debt from running the MTS Centre, the building that would house the relocated and re-named Thrashers. The difference is that it looks like local government will cooperate with True North, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. That stands in contrast to Atlanta’s perceived indifference toward keeping the Thrashers from moving.

Here’s the lowdown on True North’s negotiations with the city of Winnipeg, via the Winnipeg Free Press.

True North, which owns the MTS Centre, is looking to the province to help it manage the debt load it carries on the downtown arena in order to free up money to help pay for the relocation of the NHL team to Winnipeg.

A source said that request from True North is being studied by the province and in all likelihood will be accepted. The value of the request, or if it involves a low or no-interest loan, is not known.

“The building is a public asset,” said a source explaining why the province is interested in an arrangement that sees aid go to the MTS Centre. “It will never move.”

Keeping with previous patterns, signs point to the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg, but there are still a lot of moving parts involved right now. As always, we’ll keep you updated, as there could be quite a few twists and turns left.

Report: Atlanta mayor says city wouldn’t follow Glendale’s footsteps to keep Thrashers


Earlier tonight, we discussed the perception that the NHL doesn’t have the same interest in keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta as it does with making sure the Coyotes don’t relocate. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution report indicates that Atlanta politicians won’t be willing to make the same $25 million deal to keep the Thrashers as the City of Glendale did to avoid the Coyotes’ relocation, either.

A spokesman for Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said that the league hasn’t approached the city to make a similar deal as Glendale, but even if the NHL did, the city wouldn’t consider it. Reports indicate that the city might be in the middle of layoffs and pension reforms in 2012, so retaining a hockey team might not be considered a priority.

Before you throw Atlanta government officials under the bus, it’s important to note that these situations aren’t always directly comparable. Consider the following a simplified explanation of the biggest reasons the two situations are different for each city.

The Coyotes and Thrashers have very different leasing agreements. The Coyotes are the primary draw for Jobing.com Arena, so losing their primary tenant would be a big loss. There are other legal issues that might make relocation a bit sticky. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks foot most of the bill at Phillips Arena, so it wouldn’t be quite as detrimental to that market if the Thrashers took off (in a big picture sense).

Losing the Thrashers might be a relatively smaller problem for Atlanta than the relocation of the Coyotes would be for Glendale, but it would still have some drawbacks.

William Pate, president of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, said losing the Thrashers would be a blow to the city’s brand.

“Atlanta is obviously an international city and a major sports town, both professional and collegiate, one of the handful of cities that has a professional team in every major sport,” Pate said Wednesday. “Just from the brand of the city, if you will, it would be disappointing to see our hockey franchise leave the city.”

Pate said “a lot of conventioneers and tourists, particularly from the North” like to go to Thrashers games at Philips Arena.

You can debate the merits of Atlanta as a market day and night, but the bottom line is that the team lost a lot of money so far. It’s unfair to say that hockey cannot work in Atlanta, but a local buyer must be convinced that there’s potential for growth. There’s no guarantee that the Thrashers’ days are really numbered, but all signs indicate that the local government won’t be the ones who save the day.

Great news for Atlanta pro sports: Thrashers, Hawks ownership group settles six-year skirmish

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On the ice, the Atlanta Thrashers are prospering a year or two ahead of schedule thanks in some part to what was clearly a shrewd trade to acquire (and properly use) big defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. The bulky defenseman keeps putting up points while goalie Ondrej Pavelec and the rest of team is playing better hockey than they ever did with their most famous player, Ilya Kovalchuk.

Yet off the ice, the Thrashers and the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks have been mired in an ownership squabble that lasted six years and surely handcuffed the two pro sports franchises as they attempted to court the sometimes-fickle Atlanta market.

While GM Rick Dudley likely won’t get any more money to continue building the Thrashers because of the deal now (or possibly in the future), there’s at least renewed clarity. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Kristi E. Schwartz reports that the Atlanta Spirit finally settled their lawsuit with former partner Steve Belkin, who held a 30 percent stake in the two teams.

Part of the settlement includes seven of the group’s co-owners buying out former partner Steve Belkin’s 30 percent stake in the group. There are no new investors in line to replace Belkin.

Michael Gearon and Bruce Levenson will serve as managing partners of the Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena.

“I think if you talk to anyone in either organization, they will tell you that this lawsuit has had zero impact. Zero,” Levenson said. “At the end of the day, we had a business partner who we were in a dispute with and we have settled that dispute. It may sound a lot more complicated but that’s really what happened.”

The most important thing – for hockey fans, at least – is if this deal has any impact on the Thrashers remaining in Hotlanta. It sounds like the group is determined to keep the team in Atlanta, even though they acknowledged the fact that the team still faces some challenges when it comes to growing the sport in the area.

Meanwhile, the Thrashers had been targeted as a franchise that could possibly be relocated, with the Canadian cities of Hamilton, Quebec and Winnepeg among the list of possible new homes.

Gearon and Levenson have both said previously they were committed to keeping the team in Atlanta and told reporters Wednesday night that “no other changes are planned.”

While many fans are really hoping for a seventh team in Canada, the Thrashers have an interesting thing going here and look like they’re actually building a team with a clear focus for the first time … ever. They’ve even come up with a clever “Free Thrash” campaign to draw mainstream attention. I’d love to see this team develop a cult following in Atlanta and then maybe – just maybe – become the kind of non-traditional drawing power that the Dallas Stars were until the last few seasons in Texas.

Who knows what kind of impact this lawsuit will have (perhaps “zero” like the group claims), but hopefully the Thrashers will get a chance to keep this great momentum going.