Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snider: Sixers sale 'one of hardest business decisions' he's ever made

The vote by the NBA Board of Governors to approve the sale of the 76ers from Cocmast-Spectacor to a group led by New York billionaire Josh Harris and David Blitzer was unanimous, the league announced today.

Snider: Sixers sale 'one of hardest business decisions' he's ever made

The vote by the NBA Board of Governors to approve the sale of the 76ers from Cocmast-Spectacor to a group led by New York billionaire Josh Harris and David Blitzer was unanimous, the league announced today.

“We are delighted that the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved Josh Harris and David Blitzer’s purchase of the 76ers,” commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “Comcast-Spectacor, led by Ed Snider, has been an exceptional owner for the Sixers, continuing the team's rich history and tradition. Josh and David bring vast business experience that will greatly benefit the team as it continues to grow both on and off the court.”

Harris will be the team's control owner and NBA governor for voting on league issues, the statement said.

"My partners and I are thrilled to have become owners of the Sixers," said Harris. "It is an honor to be a part of this storied franchise - we have a lot of work to do but we have a rich history, a strong foundation and a bright future. My partners and I want to thank Ed Snider and the Comcast-Spectacor team for all their efforts to make this outcome possible. As we move forward, we want to build on the team's momentum and be world class and cutting edge in everything we do."

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Harris and the members of his investment group are scheduled to hold a news conference this morning at the Palestra to make their first public comments on the sale.

The investor group is led by Harris, who will serve as Managing Owner of the 76ers and as the team's Governor on the NBA Board of Governors. Other investors include David Blitzer, who will serve as Co-Managing Owner and an Alternate Governor of the NBA, CEO Adam Aron who will also serve as an Alternate Governor of the NBA, Martin Geller, David Heller, Travis Hennings, James Lassiter, Marc Leder, Jason Levien, Michael Rubin, Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith, Handy Soetedjo, Erick Thohir and Art Wrubel, all of whom have made personal investments in the team.

The group purchased the team from Comcast-Spectacor for $330 million. That does not include the Wells Fargo Center, which will continue to be owned by Comcast-Spectacor, although the Sixers will become a long-term tenant. The deal also include a broadcast deal with Comcast SportsNet.

“On behalf of my partners, I genuinely want to thank Ed Snider and Comcast-Spectacor for choosing us to steward the Philadelphia 76ers, a storied NBA franchise. We are excited to be writing a new chapter in Sixers lore,” Harris said in a statement. “I also want to thank Comcast-Spectacor for their gracious assistance during the transition. Knowing that the 76ers will continue to play at Wells Fargo Center and that our game television broadcasts will continue on Comcast SportsNet, our new ownership group looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Comcast-Spectacor for many years to come.”

 Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider reflected on the change in a statement:

“This is one of the hardest business decisions I’ve ever had to make. The Sixers are family, and it is very difficult to say goodbye to an organization of great people with whom we have worked so closely over the last 15 years. 

“I am very proud of the team and the progress that the organization has made, especially last season under Coach Collins. I think the foundation is in place for the Sixers to make a great run in the years to come, and it has been a privilege to be involved with a team that is such an important part of Philadelphia’s outstanding basketball tradition.”

Snider said that the decision to sell the team was cemented only after learning about the new owners’ longtime ties to Philadelphia and their commitment to the Sixers’ future.

“Over the last 15 years, a number of different individuals or entities have inquired about purchasing the Sixers, and to be honest, I was not looking to sell the team,” Snider said. “But in discussions with Josh and his partners, it became clear that this was an offer that made sense for the franchise and for the future of Comcast-Spectacor.

Comcast-Spectacor said it will now focus on its various other ventures.

“It’s important to remember that even though there will be an ownership change, the new ownership will still be our partners as tenants at the Wells Fargo Center and on our network, Comcast SportsNet,” said Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko. “So we are committed to helping them in any way possible.”

Stern will not be at the news conference because he will be at the talks with a federal mediator about a new collective bargaining agreement. He has said games through Christmas Day could be in jeopardy if a deal is not reached.

About this blog
Bob Cooney has been at the Daily News for more than 20 years, working in the sports department for the past 15. This is his third season on the Sixers beat. He has covered just about everything, but mostly college basketball, where he was the La Salle beat writer for six seasons. E-mail Bob at cooneyb@phillynews.com and follow him on Twitter.

Bob Cooney
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