“If I were Robert Pera, I probably wouldn’t make this deal.”
That’s what I was told by one area business leader involved in the local ownership group Robert Pera has put together as the California businessman nears the final stretch toward buying the Memphis Grizzlies. And even though it doesn’t sound like it, taken out of context, that source’s comment was intended as a compliment to everything Pera has agreed to as part of the Griz deal – i.e., how much the deal is steered in Memphis’ favor.
Among other things, Pera has set up a scenario where he may well not make any money from buying the team, considering he’s agreed to a $100 million penalty if the team is moved sometime in the next 15 years and that the local owners have a first right to match any sell offer Pera gets for the team. The local owners also have the right to buy the team from Pera at whatever price he bought it for if he ever wants to move it.
Griz nation will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of the NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York this week (Oct. 24-25), when it’s expected they’ll vote on Pera’s bid for the team. I’ve also been told Pera probably won’t end up owning the biggest chunk of the team, and instead of being the majority shareholder, once everything is finalized the rest of the ownership group will vote him as the controlling shareholder.
I’ve heard numbers of between $50 million and $75 million by way of spelling out how much the local owners are putting into the deal.
All of this, naturally, could be tweaked somewhat by the time it’s all said and done. It made a big splash a few weeks ago that Pera had reached a deal with local owners to keep the team in Memphis, but what in fact had been signed was an agreement to make an agreement, with the document itself identifying itself as a nonbinding agreement.
Underscoring that, I was told by one participant: “You (darn) well know the real thing’s going to be 200 pages long.”