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Atlanta Hawks Move Even Less Likely After Factoring NBA Relocation Fee

You can't blame Atlanta Hawks fans for worrying that soon-to-be owner Alex Meruelo, an out-of-towner, might only be buying the team to one day send it near his Los Angeles home, considering what just happened to the Thrashers and the NBA's interest in putting a team in Anaheim.

While that would be short-sighted business considering the city's size and diverse demographics, the high quality of the arena and Atlanta's media presence, looking at the finances of such a relocation should set the Hawks fan's mind at ease.

So let's do that.

First, our own Phil Foley broke down the tens of millions of dollars -- in addition to the purchase price of the Hawks and Philips Arena -- that it would take to break the team's current entanglements to the city. He came up with a figure near $200 million.

SB Nation's Tom Ziller tacked on a few more stacks, including the relocation fee the NBA would likely add on. Based on NBA precedent, that could be more than $30 million, though the NHL forced twice that for the Thrashers move.

In 2011, Forbes valued the Hawks at $295 million. I'd imagine Mr. Meruelo is getting a better deal than that for the team itself. Let's say he's paying $250 million, just to pull a number out of the air. Why pay almost $480 million for a NBA franchise? There are a couple teams that could be bought for half that figure. The New Orleans Hornets are worth less than the Hawks are -- you think the NBA would vacate Atlanta instead of cutting Meruelo a great deal on the team it's stuck operating?

Or he could just wait for a team to fold and start up a new one. The Charlotte Bobcats expansion fee was only $300 million.

And how about Philips too, since that's part of the deal? A polished, decade-old arena in a major downtown area doesn't sound cheap. If all our numbers are squared up, paying for the team and arena and to break enough deals to move the team could cost well more than half a billion dollars. We could be approaching what it would cost to move the $700 million Jacksonville Jaguars to Los Angeles, minus a new L.A. stadium.

While Philips could feasibly remain profitable without the Hawks despite an uptick in local concert venue competition since its construction, nobody buys expensive buildings on the other side of the country just to deliver Kirk Hinrich's Rec Specs to Orange County.

Exercises like this are just for fun, I guess. Nobody's moving the Hawks. If Meruelo is half the businessman he appears to be, his only concerns are filling the gym and making the Hawks logo mean something again in Atlanta, not experimenting with Anaheim basketball.

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