Atlanta mayor offers Hawks $150m not to move, not that they were threatening to

Man, did everything in the stadium and arena world happen yesterday, or what? Well, let’s get started and see how far we get:

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s getting involved in negotiations over who will buy the Hawks now that majority owner Bruce Levenson stepped down over revelations that he ordered staffers to fire black cheerleaders and play less hip-hop music in order to placate racist white fans. And by “involved” he means “offering them public money to insure they stay in town“:

Reed said the city will likely be willing to offer concessions to any new owner to ensure the Hawks commit to remaining in Atlanta for another 30 years. He said there could be as much as $150 million available after the city sells Turner Field, the current home of the Braves, though the mayor said that process has been held up by the baseball team’s refusal to set a definite date for its departure.

Now, nobody involved with the Hawks has said boo about moving the team, but apparently Reed is concerned enough to throw $150 million on the table without even being asked. It’s especially dubious given that the Hawks’ lease requires them to pay off the remaining bonds on their arena (around $100 million at this point) before they could leave, plus another $75 million in an early termination fee if they left before the 2018-19 season. Plus, of course, they’d have to have somewhere to move to that would be more lucrative than Atlanta.

Reed is talking about asking any new owner to commit to staying in town for another 30 years, which, given that the arena bonds will currently be paid off in 2028, really amounts to a 16-year extension on their lease. $150 million in exchange for staying put for 16 years … I guess it could be worse, but it still amounts to paying the Hawks almost $10 million a year just to keep on doing what they’re doing already. This negative rent trend is really starting to get out of hand, though I guess in a world where the NFL expects musicians to pay to play at the Super Bowl halftime show, it’s not entirely unexpected.

9 comments on “Atlanta mayor offers Hawks $150m not to move, not that they were threatening to

  1. I was so proud of the Mayor for not caving to the Braves’ demands, but WTF if this? Unbelievable.

  2. Can’t imagine that $150M would make a difference one way or the other.

    The real telling thing with the Hawks sale will be whether Chris Hansen is serious about the NBA in Seattle or if he’s a poser who only wants a team if he can get one for $400 million in cash.

  3. I don’t imagine the NBA wants to move this team and I don’t think Chris Hansen’s going to try to force the issue. We would have heard vague threats by now.

  4. The mayor is running out of teams to hand out public money to. By the end of his term he’s going to be handing out ‘Buy one sandwich, get a second sandwich of equal or lesser value’ coupons to the local Australian Rules Football team. He simply can’t stop himself from giving stuff away to sports teams. And for all of that, he’s only 2 out of 4 in keeping teams in the city.

  5. “…process has been held up by the baseball team’s refusal to set a definite date for its departure.”

    Is this really completely up to the Braves? Once their current lease is up the city should be able to sell the land, assuming there’s demand for it. Or do the Braves have infinite one year options?

  6. It’s actually a five year option that they must exercise by the end of 2015:

  7. Thanks, Mark. Interesting that Reed is threatening to boot them out entirely if they don’t agree to stay five more years, though if it comes to that, we’ll see if he goes through with it.

  8. I suppose Atlanta is the place to be for new stadiums or rental concessions…could the NHL go for the “third time is the charm”?