Traditionally, ownership of NBA teams are treated as more of profitable business ventures than a passion project. Owners range anywhere from families to distant business partners who have more money than any one individual would ever know what to do with. The trend in these highly marketable, money-printing sports conglomerates is to seek wherever the dollar takes you. Even worse, the owners that tend to own these teams feed off of the emotional investment that your causal, everyday individuals bring to the table.
Owners will make roster transactions and frame it for “the sake of the team.” Often times, if you read between these lines, it has a lot more to do with salary cap and aligning numbers than tangible improvement of a roster.
You’ll also hear about moving a team to a new city for new opportunities. New opportunity for who? The pockets of the rich?
Today the Utah Jazz ownership has developed a counter-culture in this cutthroat ownership world. It was announced today by current owner Gail Miller that at legacy trust would be created, ensuring the Utah Jazz stay within her family for generations.
Speaking of her late husband, Gail recalled a proclamation from Larry approximately 30 years ago: “The Jazz can’t leave Utah. We’ve got to do everything we can to keep them here.” And that’s exactly what Gail is doing.
Gail is taking her sole ownership out of the Jazz and putting it into a legacy trust comprised of the Miller family members. The caveat? One you might not expect from a billionaire.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune:
“Officials said the formation of the trust means all profits from the NBA franchise will be reinvested in the team so that the ‘trust will not provide any material benefit to the family from the Jazz.’”
The intriguing aspect of this story is the nature of the deal. Normally headlines concerning teams and their business affairs finds its own way of directing back to revenue streams and corporate shenanigans. This story is rooted in the belief that a small market team deserves to keep its team and at the same time finding a creative and innovative way of making sure it stays that way.
Future decisions concerning the team will have to be settled with a majority vote system; 4 out of 6 to be exact.
“It is as close as possible to there being perpetual ownership of a professional sports team,” Miller’s son, Greg Miller, said. This announcement is a first in the NBA; there has never been a family trust established with the main purpose of keeping a team in one city until the foreseeable end of time. Adam Silver is a proponent of the restructuring as he has been a long time supporter of small markets having a place in the NBA.
The Utah Jazz currently sit atop the Northwest division at 29-17 with an eye on the 4th overall spot in the eastern conference as they are only a game behind the Clippers.