5 Pro Sports Ownership Situations to Watch
Five pro sports ownership situations to watch closely: 1.) Los Angeles Dodgers - This may be the most interesting ownership situation to watch as it involves a nasty divorce with an iconic brand at stake in a major media market. The bad news for Dodgers fans is that the team is basically handcuffed financially until this divorce plays out and the team ownership situation is negotiated - the team has had a very inactive offseason in regards to improving its roster for the upcoming season. Will Frank McCourt or Jamie McCourt own the Dodgers moving forward or will they be forced to sell the team to a new owner as part of their divorce settlement? Watch this one closely. 2.) Phoenix Suns - Suns majority owner Robert Sarver may be more open than ever to selling the team - either to one of his limited partners or to a new owner altogether. Sarver is reportedly hurting from the impact of the decline of the economy over recent years on his day to day business interests. If Amar'e Stoudemire opts in to his $17M contract next season that may be the final straw for Sarver who is looking to dump salaries this offseason not add payroll. Sarver purchased the Suns in 2004 for a then NBA record $401M - a price many experts thought was inflated. 3.) Memphis Grizzlies - Current owner Michael Heisley has quietly been looking to sell the team for the past few years. Now he's gone public with his desire to sell. The 73 year old owner says that his family isn't going to take over the team whenever his time expires. So he tells the Memphis Commercial Appeal the following: If the right person makes a reasonable offer for the team I will sell it." The problem is that there may not be much of a market for a team that struggles to sell tickets in a market that has shown very little enthusiasm for NBA basketball. The Memphis Tigers are much more popular locally than the Grizzlies are. 4.) Charlotte Bobcats - Michael Jordan is in line to succeed Bob Johnson as the majority owner of the Bobcats. This is intriguing on a number of levels. The team has lost millions over the past few years. Will Jordan be able to attract new corporate sponsors and season ticket holders because of his high profile stature? The team has one of the lowest payrolls in the NBA showing the team has not spent much in free agency. Will Jordan be able to attract marquee players to Charlotte? Will Jordan take an active role as the new majority owner? What kind of a role will Jordan have in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement talks? Jordan was always one of the most vocal players on the union side. This could be awkward for him if he shows up on the owner's side of the table...especially since he has a close relationship via his Jordan Brand with many of the NBA's young stars including Carmelo Anthony Chris Paul Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. But Jordan could also be THE guy able to bridge the gap between the owners and players at the bargaining table because he's sat on both sides of the table and can sympathize with both sides. The MJ era in Charlotte will definitely be worth watching. 5.) Jacksonville Jaguars - If you want to identify one NFL team that could potentially move to a bigger market (Los Angeles anyone?) its the Jaguars. The team lost a staggering 17 000 season-ticket holders prior to last season and they play in one of the NFL's smallest markets. If the right opportunity to sell or move the team came along for owner Wayne Weaver he'd likely take a serious look. (The team is seriously considering drafting hometown hero Tim Tebow to inject life into ticket sales for the franchise - when the Vikings signed Brett Favre last season they immediately sold 7 000 new season tickets). The NBA and NFL CBA negotiations will also impact ownership situations in the future. If the owners in both leagues feel that new agreements that are eventually negotiated don't accurately reflect the new economic world we live in with a depressed economy there will be several NBA and NFL owners who look to sell their franchises. "