NEW YORK, Jan. 10 – The NBA Board of Governors today unanimously approved the granting of an expansion team to Charlotte, North Carolina, to be owned by Robert Johnson. The team will begin play in the 2004-05 season.

Mr. Johnson also takes over ownership of the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting, effective immediately.

Robert Johnson will own Charlotte's NBA and WNBA franchises.
Mitchell Layton
NBAE/Getty Images
“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Charlotte back into the NBA, since we appreciate how supportive their fans have been in the past,” Commissioner David Stern said. “We are particularly excited to have Robert Johnson as our newest owner. Bob has shown a great understanding for building a new company, and we are confident in his ability to develop a strong NBA organization.”

Johnson is the founder and chief executive officer of Black Entertainment Television (BET), a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (“Viacom”) and the leading African American-operated media and entertainment company in the United States.

In 2000, Johnson sold BET to Viacom for approximately $3 billion and signed a multi-year contract to continue to serve as chief executive officer. This all-stock transaction made Johnson the second largest individual shareholder in Viacom to its chairman, Sumner Redstone. Following the sale of BET, Johnson formed The RLJ Companies.

The team will play its inaugural season in the Charlotte Coliseum and move to a new arena to be constructed for the 2005-06 NBA season.