Unlike the Braves and Falcons, whose pitiful seasons on the diamond and the gridiron were overshadowed by their upcoming moves to gaudy new stadiums, the Hawks are excelling on the hardwood and quieting their stormy ownership situation. Their first place record has them on pace for the best season in franchise history, and fans are taking notice. Attendance is up some 2,200 seats per game and TV viewership has risen alongside: up 40% from 2013/14.
The drama surrounding owner Bruce Levenson’s leaked ‘racist’ emails seems but an afterthought at this point, and the fact that General Manager Danny Ferry remains in exile from the team for his own racially charged comments in a scouting report doesn’t sting so bad when the team he put together is playing at such a high level.
In a typical Hawks season, with the team limping toward a .500 record and an imminent first round loss, the news that Levenson and the rest of the Atlanta Spirit ownership group had agreed to sell 100% of their stake in the team would be the talk of the town, (at least among what few Atlantans noticed). This season, it has elicited little but a fist pump from Hawks fans breathlessly watching their team win 20 of their past 22 games. While few will be sad to see Atlanta Spirit go, there is always some fear with an ownership change that the possibility of a move exists. After all, the Thrashers are but 3 years removed from flying up to Winnipeg to become the Jets. As rumors of prospective buyers arise, so have fears of a similar move by the red-hot Hawks.
Hearing Hawks owners want team to stay in Atlanta. BUT – hearing Thomas Tull and Chris Hansen have separate Hawks-to-Seattle bids planned.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 6, 2015
That’s where Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed steps in. In the power vacuum that opened amidst the Levenson and Ferry drama, Reed has stepped up to try to find potential buyers, particularly those with Atlanta roots or who will at least pledge to keep the team in the city. Reed, who was instrumental in helping to organize the Falcons own move across the street to their new stadium, (as well as throwing his hands up in the air as the Braves announced their intentions to move to Cobb County) has pledged to do anything in his power to have the Hawks remain in the city that they have called home since 1968.
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