Whether or not you believe the speculation that the Thrashers could possibly be leaving our warm weather and southern charm for the harsh winters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the fact remains that Atlanta’s NHL team is up for sale.
Since February, Spirit has been looking for investors interested in buying the Thrashers who were valued at $135 million by Forbes in December. While the team has a loyal, albeit small, fan base, the team is ranked 27th in the league and has an operating income of $-8 million. Atlanta Spirit, the Thrashers’ ownership group, is reportedly looking for $110 million for the club and investors who would keep the team in Atlanta.
If local investors buy the team and keep them in their Philips Arena with the NBA’s Hawks, they could stand to make $7 million non-ticket revenue. However, with the rumors that True North Entertainment and Sports of Winnipeg could possibly offer $170 million for the team, with $60 million going to the NHL, the cloud of uncertainty threatening to rain all over Blueland is growing. In the midst of this looming doubt part owner of the Thrashers, Michael Gearon Jr., had this to say to the AJC, “As someone who has lived in this city my whole life, it’s important to me that we do everything we can to try to have our sports teams survive and prosper in this city. … I think this city of 5 1/2 million should prosper as a successful NHL city.”
If Gearon and his partners can beat the odds and find a set of investors keen on keeping the team in the city eventually the clouds will part and fans can prepare for another season cheering on the Thrashers in their own backyard.