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Smith completes takeover of Utah Jazz, Vivint Arena

The sale of NBA basketball team Utah Jazz and its Vivint Smart Home Arena to an ownership group led by Ryan Smith has been approved by the league’s board of governors.

Smith, the co-founder of Utah-based tech business management firm Qualtrics, agreed a deal to purchase the Jazz and its home arena in October. The deal also includes the NBA G League’s Salt Lake City Stars and management of the Triple-A baseball affiliate Salt Lake Bees.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed but ESPN reported that the deal would be worth $1.66bn (£1.25bn/€1.36bn). Smith and his wife Ashley will assume ownership of the Jazz from the Miller family, which has led the team for 35 years and will retain a minority interest.

Tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of Atlassian, and venture capitalist Ryan Sweeney have also been announced as new minority owners of the Jazz. Sydney-based Cannon-Brookes becomes the first Australian to own a minority interest in an NBA franchise.

“Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

“As a lifelong fan of the Utah Jazz and more recently as one of their key marketing partners, Ryan has demonstrated his deep commitment to the Jazz and the Utah community and there’s no doubt he will bring that same level of dedication to the operation of the team.

“We are also extraordinarily appreciative of Gail Miller, Greg Miller and the Miller family for 35 years of outstanding leadership and service and, on behalf of the entire NBA, thank them for always running a first-class organisation in every way.”

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.

Qualtrics was sold to SAP for $8bn last year.

Image: Tamanoeconomico/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size