What Are The Atlanta Hawks Worth?
When the Los Angeles Clippers were sold to Steve Ballmer earlier this year, most fans assumed it'd be the only NBA franchise to change hands in 2014.
The latest drama surrounding the Atlanta Hawks, though, appears to have placed another team on the block.
According to The New York Times, the Hawks and owner Bruce Levenson will part ways after a racially inappropriate email recently went public. The comments were made when Levenson was discussing the different ethnicities present in the Hawks' fan base.
"[T]he views he expressed are entirely unacceptable and are in stark contrast to the core principles of the National Basketball Association," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver remarked. As a result, Levenson told Silver he will sell the franchise, the Times reports.
How Much Is The Team Worth?
Forbes estimates the team is worth $425 million, making it just the 27th most valuable NBA franchise (out of 30 teams).
Of course, there's a chance the team will sell for much more than that. The LA Clippers, which the outlet values at $575 million, ultimately fetched a price of $2 billion. If that multiplier remains constant, the Hawks could cost a buyer about $1.4 billion.
There are other ways to value a professional basketball team, though. One reason Ballmer paid a premium for the Clippers is likely location. The team's bid book indicates LA is the country's second largest TV network, behind only New York City. Atlanta, on the other hand, is eighth, behind cities like Boston, Dallas and Chicago.
Brand value is another factor to consider. Forbes reports the Hawks' brand is worth $44 million; the Clippers' is worth $20 million more. The Clippers also roster two players, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, in the NBA's top 15 best-selling jerseys. Atlanta has zero -- its leading scorer last season was the skilled, but less marketable Al Horford.
A lack of stars and mediocre play -- the team finished 38-44 last season -- also shows up in attendance numbers. By capacity, the Hawks filled just 76.6 percent of their home games last year, the fifth lowest mark in the league, ESPN reports. The Clippers finished fourth.
Given these weaknesses, it's possible the Hawks won't cost nearly as much as $1.4 billion. CNN Money, after speaking with Webster University professor Patrick Rishe recently, pegged a more reasonable sale price to be between $700 million and $1 billion.
Still, the opportunity to buy an NBA team doesn't come around that often. This, and the fact that teams are appreciating as an asset class -- franchise values have more than tripled since 2001 -- means a Ballmer-esque bid is always possible.
As for whether the buyer will be another ex-tech CEO, only time will tell.
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