The ownership of the Atlanta Hawks has recently been an area of great discussion and rumor as the multi million dollar sale of the NBA franchise has reached its conclusion. Eventually, Bruce Levenson‘s Atlanta Hawks LLC consortium decided to hand over the keys to Philips Arena to a Tony Ressler led group of investors for a reported $730 million. Ressler has been looking around the NBA for many years seeking the perfect entry into franchise ownership and felt he had arrived with the sale of the LA Clippers, only to be outbid when Steve Ballmer bid $2 billion for the LA based franchise.
Ressler is already a part owner of the Milwaukee Brewers MLB franchise and is looking for a good way of increasing his presence in the sporting life of the US. The Hawks sale came at the perfect time for Ressler and a valuation of around $1 billion saw many potential bidders put off entering the race for the team, which entered the playoffs for the 2014-15 season as the number one team in the eastern division. The sale of the Hawks will return them to part of a sporting empire that now includes the Brewers, but in the past Hawks owners have also controlled the Atlanta Braves MLB team and the Atlanta Thrashers NHL franchise alongside the Hawks.
In 2004, when Levenson led the buyout of Time Warner his Atlanta Spirit consortium took control of both the Hawks and the Thrashers for a reported $250 million. Alongside the rights to use Philips Arena the deal was a high profile success for Levenson who already led a successful life as a businessperson involved in analytics and data gathering for many industries. Over the years Bruce Levenson grew into his role as the public face of the Hawks and joined the NBA Board of Governors and a number of charitable programs he and the Hawks backed together.
The Bruce Levenson led consortium had already sold the NHL Thrashers franchise and seen the team relocated to Canada as the Winnipeg Jets. The $170 million paid for the Thrashers franchise and the $730 million paid for the Hawks sees the New York and Washington DC based consortium receive a major profit for their decade as custodians of the Hawks franchise. Tony Ressler has inherited a Hawks organization that is close to breaking into the upper echelons of the NBA and has a solid community base that has been created through programs backed by the Levenson family over their tenure as the leaders of the Hawks.