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Atlanta Spirit Looking To Unload Hawks, Thrashers, And Philips Arena?

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According to the New York Post:

The Atlanta Spirit, the group that controls the team, has put it on the block and, in recent days has started to solicit buyers for the franchise in a package with the Philips Arena where the team plays, according to sources with direct knowledge of the process.

Spirit's official statement on the matter, released only a few hours ago:

As has been shared publicly for more than a year, we are interested in finding minority investors and have engaged a firm to assist us in that effort.  We have no plans to move either team, and remain committed to the Hawks, the Thrashers, Philips Arena and the city of Atlanta.

Key word: move. They can look to move the Hawks and Thrashers (as in "move two units of Atlanta sports teams into the discount bin") without looking to move the Hawks and Thrashers (as in "move two Atlanta teams to Seattle and Quebec, respectively.")

It wouldn't astound us to learn the New York Post has overstated a claim -- however, we would be equally unfazed to discover Spirit is engaged in just about any kind of penny-pinchery imaginable.

As Jeff Schultz notes, Spirit's pockets are hurting either way:

They are losing money, lots of money, the amount of money that tells you, "I just don’t think Turbo Tax is going to get the job done for all of these write-offs this year.

They are a dysfunctional ownership group, as evidenced by the fact that one of the primary owners (Steve Belkin) is STILL on the outs with the rest of the group.

They do things on the cheap, as evidenced by the Hawks and Thrashers’ payrolls and recently making new Hawks coach Larry Drew one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the NBA (and with only two years guaranteed on his contract).

Most locals seem to prefer the one-man, Ted Turner/Arthur Blank ownership model over a confusing cadre of guys who hate each other. However, some locals do like having Spirit around, as it gives us reason to use words like cadre. And cabal. And ilk.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.