SALT LAKE CITY – The NBA's Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale Friday of the Utah Jazz to a group led by technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith, ending the Miller family’s 35-year run as owners of the franchise.
The deal includes Vivint Arena, the team’s G League affiliate and management of a Triple-A baseball club. Part of the sales agreement calls for the team to remain in Utah.
“Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
Smith is a cofounder of the Utah-based firm Qualtrics, which was sold to SAP for $8 billion in an all-cash deal finalized last year.
He expressed excitement in a statement released through the team. “I grew up as a big Jazz fan, and that makes this day even more special," said Smith, whose wife, Ashley, is also part of the ownership group. "The Jazz have a phenomenal leadership team who will continue to guide the organization. We are all committed to building, and to building in Utah.”
Larry and Gail Miller bought 50% of the Jazz in May 1985 for $8 million, then bought the remaining 50% the following year for $14 million. Forbes, in its annual valuation of franchises, said the Jazz were worth $1.55 billion earlier this year. The Miller family will retain a stake in the franchise.
The Jazz have the NBA’s third-best record since the 1985-86 season, their .588 winning percentage in that span trailing only San Antonio (.633) and the Los Angeles Lakers (.596).