SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 28, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Jazz is being sold. The dramatic announcement was revealed in a statement posted on the Jazz’s NBA website Wednesday morning.
According to the deal, the majority interest of the team will be bought Ryan Smith, the founder of Utah-based tech company Qualtrics.
Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group, released a statement Wednesday explaining the move, saying she and Smith had discussed sale of the Jazz over the course of several years.
The sale includes the Utah Jazz, Vivint Arena, the NBA and G-League Salt Lake City Stars, along with management of the Triple A baseball team Salt Lake Bees.
Gail Miller’s statement on the dramatic announcement is as follows:
“I have known Ryan for several years and admire the values by which he and his wife Ashley live their lives. 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.
“When Larry and I purchased the first half of the Utah Jazz in 1985, we could not comprehend the experiences we would have or the journey we would share with the Utah Jazz family, especially the players and coaches,” said Miller. “We have also appreciated our relationships within the NBA and especially our friendships with both Commissioner Stern and Commissioner Silver. Our passionate fans and their unrelenting commitment to the Jazz have been the energy that has propelled us forward, and I sincerely thank them. I also want to acknowledge and thank our dedicated employees who are the backbone of our operations and who show up day after day to create the ultimate guest experience. They are the best! We have cherished our stewardship of the Utah Jazz and the unifying influence it has been to the citizens of our state. We are also grateful for the broadcast properties, the newly renovated arena and the practice facility as supporting venues.
“Much attention has been given in recent years to my putting the team in a legacy trust. This was done in connection with my estate plan and with the objective of assuring our loyal Jazz fans that the team would remain in Utah. I am fully persuaded that with this sale, the objectives of the trust will be honored, and the new owners have made the same commitment to keep the team in Utah. This transaction will unlock opportunities that will allow us to continue our stewardship in ways not possible until now. Our mission is and will continue to be to Enrich Lives.”
Smith is no stranger to the Miller family or the Jazz organization. According to today’s announcement the Utah-based technology tycoon was a “strong corporate sponsor” and co-creator of the “5 For The Fight” jersey patch, the first message-bearing “philanthropic jersey patch in the history of North American professional sports.”
Once the deal is approved, Smith will become the official NBA Governor of the Utah Jazz and its affiliates. He will have “final decision-making authority for all business and basketball operations related to the team and other assets,” under terms of the sale.
“The Miller family has had an unbelievable impact on countless people through the Utah Jazz and the other organizations they run,” Smith said upon word of the sale. “We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for the amazing stewardship they have had over this asset for the past 35 years. My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future – especially with the greatest fans in the NBA. The Utah Jazz, the state of Utah, and its capital city are the beneficiaries of the Millers’ tremendous love, generosity and investment. We look forward to building upon their lifelong work.”
The sale has yet to receive final approval from the NBA’s Board of Governors, but is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Smith and the Miller family are working on a separate agreement on plans to acquire The Zone Sports Network.
The Miller family will retain ownership of Larry H. Miller Dealerships, Larry H. Miller Real Estate, Salt Lake Bees, Megaplex Theatres and Prestige Financial Services.