Utah Jazz sells majority stake to a tech entrepreneur

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Jill Miller, whose family has owned Utah Jazz for 35 years, has agreed to sell a majority stake in the franchise to Ryan Smith, Co-founder of Qualtrics, A Utah-based software company.

Miller, 77, with her late husband Larry It bought a 50 percent stake in Jazz in May 1985, About the agreement Wednesday. The sale includes majority stake in Jazz, Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City Stars of the NBA G League and managing AAA Salt Lake Bees high school baseball team. ESPN reports a purchase price of $ 1.66 billion.

“After much soul-searching, lengthy discussions and intense assessments of our long-term goals, my family and I decided this was the time to transfer our responsibility and stewardship that we have cherished for 35 years to Ryan and Ashley, who share our values ​​and commit,” Miller said in a statement about Smith and his wife. In Utah. “

Smith, 42, is a native of Utah and a long time fan of jazz. Qualtrics, which SAP bought for $ 8 billion in January 2019, became the team’s sponsor in the 2017-18 season, but chose to patch the “5 For The Fight” cancer research campaign on the jersey instead of the company logo.

Larry Miller, a successful Utah car dealer, bought the first 50 percent of the stake for $ 8 million in 1985 and the remaining 50 percent was jazz for $ 14 million in 1986, allaying fears of the team’s move to Miami or Minnesota. Led by coach Jerry Sloan and the super solid star duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton, Utah quickly established itself under Miller’s stewardship as one of the league’s strongest franchises.

Under the Millers leadership, Utah collected nine division titles and made two trips to the NBA Finals, in 1996-97 and 1997-98, both of which lost to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. The jazz team has won only four playoff series since its trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2006-2007, but it is still seen as a well-run league franchise, led by team leader Dennis Lindsay and coach Quinn Snyder.

Nevertheless, Smith will have to make some important decisions early in his tenure, once approved. Both Utah All Stars – Donovan Mitchell and midfielder Rudi Joubert – qualify for lucrative contract extensions as the new season approaches.

The jazz team suffered a tumultuous 2019-20 season after testing positive for Joubert on March 11 for Coronavirus before a game in Oklahoma City led to the NBA shutdown. Mitchell’s test result also came back positive, leading to tension inside a locker room in Utah about Joubert’s “negligent” self-described behavior in the days leading up to the positive tests. Utah appeared to be recovering during the NBA restart at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, and topping Denver 3-1 in the first round of the Western Conference Qualifiers, yet it suffered a painful defeat.

Another challenge for Smith is to ensure that the March 2019 incident in which Russell Westbrook, who was playing for Oklahoma City, is not repeated. Racist abuse by fans. Jazz blocked the fan for life in response to this and another fan of him A separate incident involving Westbrook during the 2018 qualifiers, But Utah fans remained a watch after Mitchell was met with some hostility in June following an Instagram post in recognition of the Juneteenth.

“There’s a certain stigma – there’s no secret to that in Utah – and the comments have clearly not helped,” Mitchell said in July. “But as athletes we want to know that we will not defend any racism and anything else that comes with it.”

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