The Philadelphia 76ers have been sold off, and is now under new management, reports ESPN.
The deal has been in the works, and involves a group led by New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris. The group also includes David Blitzer, Art Wrubel, former NBA agent Jason Levien, and actor Will Smith.
According to ESPN, NBA Commissioner David Stern says Harris and Blitzer bring vast business experience that will greatly benefit the team as it continues to grow both on and off the court.
Previous owners, Comcast-Spectacor (led by chairman Ed Snider), purchased the Sixers from Harold Katz in 1996. They also own the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
“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.”
So far, the new group of owners have slashed tickets prices on nearly 9,000 seats and established the website NewSixersOwner.com to solicit fan feedback.
The 76ers were valued by Forbes, this year, at $330 million, 17th in the NBA. The team has a television deal with cable station Comcast SportsNet through 2029.
The Sixers haven’t won a championship since 1983. Their latest finals appearance came in 2001, led by NBA superstar Allen Iverson. However, they ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. In the last decade, the team has won just one playoff series, and haven’t had a winning records since the 2004-05 season. But, have made the playoffs three times since.
Last season, the Sixers won 41 games and stretched the Miami Heat to a five-game playoff series in Doug Collins’ first season as coach.
Will Smith has not commented on the purchase.