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Questions remain on potential Atlanta Hawks sale

The Atlanta Hawks are up for sale, and while there is significant interest in the proceedings, several questions remain as to their price tag, as well as the process and timeline for transferring ownership.

Kevin C. Cox

The ownership situation with the Atlanta Hawks has long been a point of contention, and in the recent past, that contention has come to a full-blown boil with the controversy surrounding Bruce Levenson. As a result, it is public knowledge that Levenson will be selling his "controlling interest" in the team, but as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, it is certainly more complicated than many believe.

All we know at this point is that Bruce Levenson and his Washington partners have agreed to sell their controlling interest of 50.1 percent of the franchise.

What about Michael Gearon Jr. and partners and their 34 percent? What about the group of investors from New York and their 16 percent? On that subject, I have been told "no decision has been made."

The Atlanta Spirit board has yet to meet, make their intentions known and vote on what will be sold. That meeting could occur in the next 10 days. Only at that point can an investment firm be hired and prepare the necessary economic data to start the vetting process of prospective buyers.

It is noteworthy that Levenson and his group do own more than 50% of the team, making any sale vitally important, but whether Gearon's portion and that of the New York-based group are included could have a great impact on the type of interest that the club receives. Multiple reports have indicated that any "robust interest" (a claim made by Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed) is premature, and the latest from the AJC reflects that while still putting forth that multiple interested parties have reached out to the current owners for more information.

In addition, Vivlamore notes that while the Fulton County Recreation Authority does have some slight involvement surrounding Philips Arena, the city of Atlanta has the equivalent of zero power with regard to the situation. Each step made by mayor Reed appears to be an attempt at injecting his office into the proceedings, but on a legal basis, it is tough to envision a primary role from the city in when and where the transfer of ownership takes place.