Recently, news has broken that the three owners of the Atlanta Hawks have decided to make 100 percent of their franchise available to the highest bidder. To fans of the addition of an NBA franchise in Louisville this may come as good news. I assure you that it is; just not in the way that you would think.
To set the record straight, there is no way that the Hawks will relocate anywhere at all. No conversation over where they should move will be had. With the change of ownership will come the exchange of money, a neat stack of papers with some rather powerful signatures, and the keys to the Phillips Arena. Several factors will keep the Hawks in ATL. The current bond agreement between the Hawks and the Phillips Arena has them tied to the arena for another seven years. Termination of this bond would require the Hawks’ new owners to not only pay the bond off in full but also an “early termination fee” to the tune of $75 million. Major corporations housed in Atlanta also have vested interest in making sure the Hawks stay put. TNT/Turner owns the assets of NBA TV; with Atlanta being rated as the 8th largest TV market in the nation TNT would certainly want to keep the team local.
The major interest that the city of Louisville has in this deal is what the price tag would be. This would be an indicator of an expansion fee price in the current NBA market. This would allow J. Bruce Miller and his potential group of investors/buyers to know what kind of figure they need to have together when putting in an application for expansion from the NBA. Until then keep watching, reading, and being a fan.