TIM PANNELL FOR FORBES
On Wednesday, October 28th, the long time owner of the Utah Jazz Gail Miller announced that after long term negotiation, she would be selling the NBA team to Ryan Smith, owner of Qualtrics. Which is the same company that sponsors the jersey patch on all of the players’ uniforms through “5 For The Fight,” a non-profit that raises money to find a cure for cancer.
The $1.66 billion dollar deal includes ownership of Vivint Smart Home Arena, the Salt Lake City Stars, and the Utah Jazz. Additionally, Ryan Smit has pledged to keep the team located in Utah, and to never move it to another location under his ownership.
“I have known Ryan for several years and admire the values by which he and his wife Ashley live their lives,” Gail Miller said on Wednesday, “They have such love for and a connection to Utah and this team. Because of our friendship and several high-level conversations over the years, Ryan recently approached our organization to inquire about the possibility of purchasing the Utah Jazz and some of our other sports and entertainment properties. After much soul searching, lengthy discussions and extensive evaluations of our long-term goals, my family and I decided this was the right time to pass our responsibility and cherished stewardship of 35 years to Ryan and Ashley, who share our values and are committed to keeping the team in Utah. We have every confidence they will continue the work we have undertaken and move the team to the next level. Our family remains invested in the success of the Utah Jazz and these businesses, and we will retain a minority interest.”
Ryan Smith will be able to attend the NBA Board of Governors meetings and have full control in decision-making regarding the team and its affiliates. Steve Starks will continue to be a chief executive officer, but take on the role of an advisor as well. Apart from ownership, there should be minimal to no change in typical operations regarding the Utah Jazz. Ticket sales, concessions, sponsorships, and other operations alike will stay the same.