Hawks to add five investors to ownership group

The Hawks are on the verge of adding five minor investors to their ownership group, according to several people familiar with the situation. The completion of a deal is in the NBA approval process and likely will be completed by mid-March.

The investors will not have a significant ownership in the team nor will their additions change the current structure. The additions were described as “a plus strategically, but not a big deal.” The Hawks could add additional investors in the future.

The Hawks would not comment on the additions to the ownership group.

“We’ve been saying for some time that we’ve been trying to find strategic investors to bring into the organization,” Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Levenson said any investor that would be brought into the organization “must be passionate about building a championship team in Atlanta.”

The five new investors have been described as being adept in the digital-content and social-media fields and will offer access to new team sponsorships. The group will be background players and likely will not disclose their identities publicly.

The Hawks currently have an ownership group of seven, with Levenson serving on the NBA’s Board of Governors.

Large ownerships have become commonplace in the NBA. Boston, Chicago, Golden State, Memphis, Philadelphia and San Antonio are among the organizations with large ownership groups, Levenson noted.

According to those familiar with the situation, the investors believe the NBA and the Hawks are a sound investment.

“There is a real belief in the future of the Hawks and the future of the NBA,” one person familiar with the deal said of the investor’s interest.

According to Forbes’ annual report, NBA revenues were an estimated $4.6 billion last year. All but four of the 30 teams were profitable last season. The Hawks were one of the four franchises in the red. The Sacramento Kings recently sold for $534 million.

In an interview with the AJC in October, Levenson said the ownership group is committed to keeping the Hawks after a failed attempt to sell a majority interest to Alex Merulo in 2011.

The Hawks are seeking to make capital investments in the organization, including the addition of a new practice facility. The Philips Arena scoreboard is outdated by the standards of most NBA arenas. New end-of-court scoreboards were added last year, among other improvements to the arena.

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