SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 23, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — “For generations to come, the Jazz will belong to Utah.”
That was the promise made Monday afternoon by Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller, who announced that ownership would be transferred to a “legacy trust,” designed as an irrevocable agreement that will assign team stewardship in perpetuity to current and future generations of the Miller family and their representatives.
The move, approved by the NBA, is designed to keep the team in Utah, allaying fears that the Jazz would be sold and leave the Beehive State, Miller said. The trust also covers ownership and control of the Vivint Smart Home Arena, home court for the Jazz.
Miller shared her vivid memory of a 1985 car ride with Larry Miller, her late husband, who declared the two should do everything they could to save the Utah Jazz.
The Millers then had small children and had recently launched their first car dealership, an enterprise that since has grown to a corporation with more than 80 businesses and properties operating in 46 states, according to the company website.
Money was much tighter when the couple bought Utah Jazz half ownership “for considerably more than our net worth” and far beyond their expertise, Gail Miller said. The following year, the team’s future was again at risk, and the Millers bought full ownership.
“We both felt it was the the right thing to do,” Miller told her listeners on Monday. “We had to do whatever possible to make it happen … We leveraged everything we had.”
She said that she and Larry, who died of diabetes complications in 2009, had always considered themselves stewards of the team, devoted to keeping it in Utah and making it a community asset.
Miller said the legacy trust would allow the family to continue to use “financial resources to obtain the best talent,” adding, “our devotion is stronger than ever.”
“Our goal is for jazz to win NBA championships and to give future generations enjoyment,” Miller said at the Vivint Arena news conference.
“My hope is when the community thinks of our family, today and for many years to come, they will think of us as a family that loves Utah.”