If a Forbes.com report is accurate, an ownership group might be able to acquire the Atlanta Thrashers for as little as $110 million. Obviously, that’s still a lot of money, but Forbes’ Mike Ozanian explains that there might be a few million reasons why the deal could be a decent gamble.
The No. 1 reason is that the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks are responsible for the arena’s bond payments, meaning the Thrashers just play a flat rent. If that doesn’t make sense to you, the simpler way to look at it is that the team could net about $7 million in non-ticket revenue because the Hawks basically run Phillips Arena.
It seems like Ozanian arrived at the $110 million number by the simple math of a deal that would potentially bring the Thrashers to Winnipeg. As we discussed before, True North Entertainment and Sports would likely attempt to relocate the Thrashers if the Coyotes stay in Phoenix. They would reportedly be willing to make that deal for $170 million, with $60 million of that money going to the NHL as part of a relocation fee. Long story short, that would mean that the Atlanta Spirit ownership group would get $110 million from that sale, so it makes sense that they’d take that much from a local group too.
Forbes values the Thrashers at $130 million and that is, indeed, a pretty cushy arena deal. That being said, the team only made one appearance in the playoffs (they were swept in 2007 by the New York Rangers) and have struggled with attendance issues for years. Ozanian said that the team has only been profitable in its first two seasons when Ted Turner served as their owner.
It’s an interesting proposition, though. If the team really is worth $130 million, then maybe a new ownership group could actually make it work in Atlanta after all. The team hasn’t ever been a consistent winner in their time, but new GM Rick Dudley is putting together some interesting pieces for the future.
We’ll just have to wait and see which city will end up cheering those promising young players on, though.