I had thought that when Arte Moreno bought the Anaheim Angels (as they were then called) and at his introductory press conference announced a cut in beer prices, that was the best start ever by an owner.
Well, it is. But this is a close second.
Sixers owner Joshua Harris came in at his introductory press conference and started slashing ticket prices, reports CSNPhilly.com.
“I’m announcing today that going forward, we are slashing – and I mean slashing – ticket prices on individual game tickets on just under 9,000 seats at the Wells Fargo Center for each and every Sixers home game,” (new chief executive officer Adam) Aron said. “Indeed on thousands of seats each night, our ticket prices will be cut by 50 percent or more. This is not a sale or a promotion. These are our new ticket prices.”
To be clear, these cuts are for individual tickets, not season tickets. Aron said tickets in the lower bowl of the arena will go for as low as $29 – last season the cheapest lower bowl ticket was $54. That’s a 46 percent decrease. What’s more, a center court ticket in the eighth row of the mezzanine bowl will cost $20, down from $45 last season – a 56 percent cut.
That’s about as good a start as fans could hope for, outside of finding a taker for Elton Brand and his contract. (The owners could not talk about players or plans on the basketball side of the operation, due to the lockout and fear of the wrath of David Stern.
Here’s the video, in case you think we’re just toying with your emotions, Philly.
We told you over the weekend that the NBA’s other owners had approved the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers to New York billionaire Joshua Harris and investors.
Now the league has made official what everyone already knew, sending out an announcement of the sale Tuesday morning.
“We are delighted that the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved Josh Harris and David Blitzer’s purchase of the 76ers,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern in a released 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.”
“My partners and I are thrilled to have become owners of the Sixers,” Harris said in a statement released by the team Tuesday morning. “It is an honor to become 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.”
Congratulations Mr. Harris on the purchase of your team that cannot play basketball right now. That must feel special.
Sixers’ fans will welcome the new owners — former owner Snider (through his company Comcast-Spectacor) was seen as a hockey fan who happened to own a basketball team. It was good for the building he owned (the Wells Fargo Center, where the Sixers will remain tenants) and the cable station, but it was not his passion.
Harris has Philly ties, he graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
We’ll see what kind of owner Harris will be. He takes over a team that took some steps forward last season under Doug Collins and has some young talent, but also has questions about direction and how to build. And what to do with Andre Iguodala.
Next Wednesday and Thursday, the NBA Board of Governors — all of the owners — are going to get together and most of the talk will be about labor deals and revenue sharing.
But there will be one other order of business — approving the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers to Joshua Harris and other investors, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. That means the owners will vote to do at least one thing during the meeting.
The details of the sale — the Sixers for $280 million, but not the Wells Fargo Center — was worked out months ago but the Board of Governors had not voted to approved the sale yet. They had a couple other things on their plate. They are expected to get around to it next week.
After that the ownership group will make its first public comments, although if the lockout is still in effect (as expected) it will be pretty dull as they won’t be able to talk players or much else on the basketball side of the equation.
This has been the general reaction of Sixers fans to the team being sold (the other NBA owners just need to approve it): “Good, Ed Snider only cared about hockey… wait, who is buying the team?”
The answer is Joshua Harris.
Which leads to the next question, who is Joshua Harris?
Kate Fagan delves into that over at the Philadelphia Inquirer in a post every 76ers fan should read. Philly fans may not know the guy, but they are going to like him.
Harris, head of the investment group whose ownership of the 76ers is pending approval by the NBA board of governors, seems like a man with few weaknesses: He’s a billionaire, a respected businessman, a family man, and an athlete – not necessarily listed in order of importance.
He ran the 2010 New York City Marathon in a time of 3 hours, 53 minutes, 41 seconds. He has five children with his wife, Marjorie. According to Forbes, he’s worth $1.2 billion. He recently attended his 20-year reunion for Harvard Business School and came across as the same guy he was back in the days when M.C. Hammer was cool and when Harris couldn’t afford to buy a small country: kind, down-to-earth, charming, clearly the smartest in a room filled with intelligence.
Harris also attended Penn in the mid-1980s, when the Sixers won the NBA title, and that’s when he became a Sixers fan (and Philly sports fan generally). He now rums a private equity firm — Apollo Global Management — but he is buying the team with a group of investors, not with the firm (as happened with Tom Gores in Detroit).
It’s interesting that he has largely avoided the spotlight for a guy who has amassed more than $1 billion in wealth. The Sixers purchase is really his first move that will generate headlines with his name in them. Read the entire profile, he sounds like an interesting man. And Sixers fans will like what they read.
“I can’t see him using this as a toy or a status symbol or some kind of crown jewel to illustrate his success to people or to himself,” (college friend Scott) Stewart said. “He’s a serious businessman, and he wants to make it a serious success. Is this a toy? No. There’s just no way. . . . The way to be successful in this case in the NBA is to win NBA championships. It’s a very definitive and tangible goal. His track record of success would lead you to believe that that’s his ambition with the team: not only to win one but win multiple.”
Despite what David Stern seems to think is a franchise-crushing financial system, and despite the threat of a protracted lockout, NBA franchises seem to be selling for record prices. And healthy profits in some cases for the former owners. The latest is the just agreed-to deal for Joshua Harris to buy the Philadelphia 76ers.
But there is a trend in the new buyers — many come from private equity firms.
It’s not a new trend, but over at CNN’s Fortune they broke it down.
This is the fourth time in recent years that private equity executives have purchased an NBA team. The first was in 2002, when the Boston Celtics were acquired for $380 million by a group led by Steve Pagliuca (Bain Capital) and Wyc Grousbeck (Highland Capital Partners).… Next up was the Golden State Warriors, acquired last year for $450 million by venture capitalist Joe Lacob (Kleiner Perkins).…
Most recently Tom Gores and his firm Platinum Equity purchased the Detroit Pistons, in a transaction marked by its unusual structure (the team technically is majority-owned by the firm, but since Gores controls the firm…).
Now we have the Philadelphia 76ers going to Harris, and I’ve heard word that another group of PE execs is beating the bushes for their own NBA franchise.
A lot of these guys, like Gores, specialize in buying and turning around distressed businesses. Does that make the NBA something that fits their business profile, or just a fun toy for really rich guys?
I’m not going to pretend to know what this means, if anything, for the league. Just pointing out a trend, but something to watch to see if there is an impact on the NBA.