Mar 25, 2010, 7:22 PM EDT
Unlike the sale 3,000 miles away in the Bay Area, there are no real secrets about the sale of the Washington Wizards.
When owner Abe Pollin died it was already agreed his estate was going to try to sell the team and the building to Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. Today they cleared one of the biggest hurdles, agreeing to a price — a cool $550 million, according to the Washington Post.
The sources cautioned that the deal could fall apart if the sides fail to reach agreement on other, non-financial issues such as the operations of the arena in the period before Leonsis takes control. But reaching a price was critical to clearing the way for Leonsis’s eventual ownership, sources said.
“The financial terms are tentatively agreed to,” said one high-level negotiator for the Pollin side, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting the talks. “In every complex legal agreement, there are significant non-financial terms. The parties are negotiating those in good faith. I certainly hope we will cross the finish line. But no guarantees.”
If this goes through, Leonsis will be one of the biggest power brokers in Washington sports. He will own the Wizards, the Capitals and the state-of-the-art building they play in (which also hosts some concerts and other events), as well as the WNBA’s Mystics.
Leonsis and Pollin had plans for this sale since Leonsis bought the Caps 11 years ago. That’s why he stuck with the Capitals despite a horrible revenue deal with the late Pollin — the Capitals saw no money from the luxury suits or club seats in the building. In modern hockey and basketball, those two areas along with sponsorships are the key economic drivers. Regular ticket sales matter, but suites are the backbone.