The Utah Jazz NBA basketball franchise is to be sold to Ryan Smith, the co-founder of Utah-based tech business management firm Qualtrics, in a deal that will also include the team’s Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Gail Miller, owner and chair of LMH Group, and the Miller family announced yesterday (Wednesday) that they have entered into definitive agreements to sell their majority interest in the Jazz to Smith.
As well as the Jazz and Vivint Smart Home Arena, the deal will include NBA G League team Salt Lake City Stars and management of Triple-A baseball affiliate Salt Lake Bees. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but ESPN reported that the agreement will be worth $1.66bn (£1.28bn/€1.42bn).
Qualtrics has served as the Jazz’s jersey sponsor since the start of the 2017-18 season and has used the partnership to showcase its ‘5 for The Fight’ cancer research charity. The charity has raised over $25m since the partnership was announced.
Gail Miller said: “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 organisation 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.”
Once the deal has been completed, Smith will become the NBA governor of the Jazz and its affiliates, and he will have final decision-making authority for all business and basketball operations related to the team. Smith sold Qualtrics to tech giant SAP last year in a deal worth $8bn.
Vivint Smart Home Arena opened in 1991 and has a capacity of 18,300. Earlier this year, the arena detailed plans to transition towards a fully cash-free model following an initial trial.