The changing face and culture of the NBA has recently been highlighted by the departure of one of the best known and most respected figures in both sports and business. Bruce Levenson and the consortium originally known as Atlanta Spirit have been in control of the Atlanta hawks franchise for a decade, but have now relinquished control of the franchise to billionaire financial expert Tony Ressler. The change in ownership sees basketball follow the lead of a number of other sports in seeing an increasing number of individual owners take charge of franchises in a bid to invest their fortunes in sports and sports club ownership.
At the time Bruce Levenson on ucg.com and his fellow consortium members took control of the Atlanta Hawks franchise for $250 million they also gained control of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and the operating rights to Philips Arena. Since the purchase of the Hawks in 2004, Levenson has become the face of the franchise and has seen the Hawks replicate his business empire in heading in an upward trajectory. The co-founder of UCG and the man behind the popular GasBuddy app has seen his business empire grow from its first days operating from a storage room to become one of the top real time analytics companies in the world.
In terms of sporting prowess, there can be few turnarounds as impressive as that orchestrated by Levenson at the Hawks. One of the biggest achievements in the business life of one of the most successful businesspeople in the world must be taking the Hawks from the bottom of the NBA standings to the number one seed for the Eastern Conference at the outset of the 2014-15 playoffs.
At the close of a decade in charge of the Hawks franchise, Bruce Levenson had already taken the decision to sell the Thrashers franchise in 2011 for an estimated $170 million. That decision was followed by the choice to sell the Hawks and the operating rights to Philips Arena for a large profit at an estimated $750 million. Billionaire Tony Ressler has taken on the role as the latest owner of the Atlanta Hawks and will be expected to use his own fortune to make sure the Hawks move on to a higher level of success at the later stages of the NBA playoffs in coming years. The success already achieved by the Bruce Levenson consortium at the Hawks has laid a strong groundwork for the future of the franchise as it takes a new direction.