Suns News

Colangelo hires firm to explore sale of Suns

Jerry Colangelo has been a part of the Suns since day one, helping introduce the NBA to Phoenix in 1968..

Craig Harris
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 8, 2004

After more than three decades of running Phoenix's oldest professional sports franchise, Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo is looking to sell the team.

Colangelo, the basketball team's chairman, said Monday that he has hired Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. to explore selling the Suns.

"The purpose in retaining them is to put the package together," Colangelo said in an interview. "My goal and objective is to put in place a transition ... I want to be comfortable with what happens to the future of the franchise when I am not involved."

"My interest is being chairman and CEO for a long time to come," he said on Monday. Colangelo, who owns about 20 percent of the team, said his goal would be to bring in an equity partner who would take over the franchise in five to eight years. But he also understands that a potential buyer may want to take control immediately.

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"You can't ever say no. I can only tell you what my plan is," Colangelo said. "I will not respond to a proposition that may or may not be out there."

Colangelo, 64, said he hired Lehman Bros. a couple of months ago. Since then he has dropped hints that he was forming an "exit strategy," but he continually denied the Suns were on the market. He was the team's first general manager in 1968, and he led the investment group that bought the Suns for $44.5 million in 1987.

"It’s not just about money,” Colangelo said. "It’s about who do I feel comfortable with having this franchise after I’m gone. This is about legacy. This is about ownership that would share the same vision, commitment to community, charitable drive." Colangelo last week also sold his managing general partnership of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but will remain with the baseball team as chairman and chief executive officer.

Colangelo declined to disclose an asking price for the Suns, except he said the franchise was worth more than the $300 million that was paid in January for the New Jersey Nets.

The Suns package also includes the team's production company, Sports and Entertainment Services, the Phoenix Mercury women's basketball team and the Arizona Rattlers indoor football team.

Colangelo said he has had no discussions with NBA greats Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, who have reportedly been interested in buying a NBA franchise. "I am completely focused on the same goal I had when I first came to Phoenix 36 years ago — winning an NBA championship," Colangelo said.

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