Comcast-Spectacor today announced that the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers to a group led by Joshua Harris, Co-Founder of Apollo Management LP, was approved by the National Basketball Association’s Board of Governors, signifying the completion of the sale. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.The acquisition does not include the Wells Fargo Center or the Philadelphia Flyers, which are owned by Comcast-Spectacor.
The 76ers sale price was reportedly $280 million.
The team will remain a long-term tenant of the Wells Fargo Center and will have a long-term cable broadcast agreement for its games with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
“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. “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.”
“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,” said Josh Harris, the new Managing Owner. “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.”
Harris’ investment is a personal one and Apollo Management LP is not involved in the transaction. The new Sixers ownership will hold a press conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday October 18 to meet the media, and further share its thinking on assuming leadership of the Sixers.
“This is one of the hardest business decisions I’ve ever had to make,” said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. “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,” Snider said. “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.
With the sale of the Sixers, Comcast-Spectacor will continue to focus attention on growing its other assets, which include a public assembly facility management firm (Global Spectrum); a food and beverage concessionaire (Ovations Food Services); a full-service ticketing company (New Era Tickets); the leading developer of ticketing solution software (Paciolan); and a commercial rights group specializing in ancillary income for arenas and stadiums (Front Row Marketing Services). Comcast-Spectacor currently operates in 46 of the 50 United States and abroad in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Lyon, France.
“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.”
Comcast-Spectacor acquired the 76ers during the formation of the joint venture between Comcast Corporation and Spectacor which was established in March of 1996.
“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.”
The new owners have named Adam Aron, a native Philadelphian and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts, Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Adam is a superb executive with deep and broad experience, and we are very pleased he will be returning to Philadelphia as CEO of the Sixers and a member of our ownership group,” Harris said. “Adam and I both have strong ties to the Delaware Valley, and we are committed to providing an exciting, high-quality experience to the great fans in Philadelphia in the years ahead.”
“Being named CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers is truly a dream come true. Having grown up in Abington, I have always been a fan of this team,” said Aron. “I’m excited about celebrating and building on the extraordinary heritage of the 76ers, the third winningest team in NBA history. We will work tirelessly to make Philadelphia sports fans proud.”
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.
About Josh Harris
Joshua Harris, 46, is Managing Partner of Apollo Management, L.P. which he co-founded in 1990. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and received his MBA from the Harvard Business School where he was named a Baker and Loeb Scholar. Among other civic activities, Harris serves as a member of The Federal Reserve Bank of New York Investors Advisory Committee on Financial Markets and the Undergraduate Executive Board of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
About Adam Aron
Adam M. Aron, 57, is Chairman and CEO of World Leisure Partners, Inc., a consultancy he formed in 2006. From 1996 to 2006, Aron was Chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, the world’s second largest ski resort operator, which under his direction became one of the nation’s premiere ski destinations. From 1993 to 1996, he was President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, then the fourth-largest cruise company worldwide. He was previously Senior Vice President of Marketing for United Airlines. A graduate of Abington High School, Aron holds a Bachelor’s Degree cum laude from Harvard College and an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School.
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