Clippers sale could mean big things for owners of Florida teams

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison (left), Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg (center) and Orlando Magic executive Dan DeVos (right) could see their teams grow in value depending on how the sale of the Clippers shakes out.


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweets on hoops passionately and financial hysteria frequently. For every hot IPO on Wall Street, Mark sees FOMO in the market place.

The Fear Of Missing Out.

Gotta get in. Gotta get in now.

Cuban and the 30 teams constituting the NBA have never seen as zealous a market for a franchise as is the current pursuit of the Los Angeles Clippers. Surf’s up in Southern California and this tide is going to lift all boats in every league across North America.

Don’t think for an instant our Rays, Marlins, Lightning and Panthers aren’t focused on the financial horizon. Every dollar added to the deal out West adds to the wealth of these franchises.

Thar she blows.

Commissioner Adam Silver is transforming the debacle of the Sterling era into perhaps the most significant team sale in history. Assembling competitive bids from billionaires, Silver and the league have turned the tainted Clipper ship into the jewel of the basketball ocean.

Full speed ahead.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Entertainment magnate David Geffen. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The irrepressible Oprah Winfrey. Gracious Grant Hill and his syndication of investment elite. All have gone public with their interest, driving the sale price.

A Clips franchise long a league afterthought and valued by Forbes magazine research at $575 million on Jan. 1 — about middle of the 30 team pack — may sell for north of $1.2 billion this summer. That is a price that would place the Staples Center’s second tenant nearly on par with the New York Knicks, the NBA’s flagship.

Micky Arison’s Miami Heat, on the verge of a third consecutive NBA championship, a fourth straight appearance in the Finals, stood perceived with January market value of $770 million. Well, what about now?

This is a billion dollar jump ball.

The Orlando Magic, acquired by the DeVos Family in 1991 for $85 million and pegged this spring with a franchise value of $600 million, could enjoy an equity jump of perhaps 30 percent when the ink dries on the Clipper closing.

A community philanthropist — boundless in his Bay Area generosity — Jeff Vinik rescued the Lightning from oblivion for $110 million eight years ago and then invested $62 million more of his own funds into the a publicly owned Forum. If the Winnipeg Jets are evaluated as a $350 million entity by comparison, and Adam Silver is reeling in speculators on the West Coast — the Bolts’ tremendous 2014 results just got a whole lot better.

As recently as a year ago, the Florida Panthers were on thin ice, a $170 million club. West Point alumnus and Wall Street investor Vincent Viola gained the team and controlling interest in the BB&T Center for $250 million this past season. Looking west, he clearly nabbed the club below new market values.

Go Army. Beat Navy.

Brilliant Wall Street investor Stuart Sternberg purchased controlling interest in the Tampa Bay Rays a decade ago for less than a quarter billion dollars. He’s taken the team to a World Series, expertly operated. Remind yourself, there are only 30 Major League Baseball franchises and Sternberg owns one poised to soar like an Evan Longoria blast.

We can point to Miami where baseball’s Marlins will jump in value, too. Playing in a stunning architectural creation erected for a world class city, the team leaps from its $500 million market cap when Silver and the NBA owners collectively approve the sale.

Of Florida’s three NFL teams, one organization in particular reminds us this stunning inflation of franchise values may actually be a global phenomenon. After purchasing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995, Malcolm Glazer and his sons acquired an initial stake in soccer’s fabled Manchester United in 2003. When the family assembled a controlling position two years later, Man U was pegged as a $1.3 billion behemoth.

As of today, nine years hence, the published value is $2.8 billion. Do the math.

Russian billionaire Mikail Prokhorov — the NBA’s only foreign owner — created a sensation himself in 2010 by paying just $200 million for control of the then New Jersey Nets as well as 45percent of the new Barclay’s Center. The price, for him, was but a pittance.

"I like to find cheap assets with problems," Prokhorov announced. "It gives me power."

The Los Angeles Clippers may have endured problems, but this stunning sales market has the power to dramatically increase the value of every big league franchise in professional sport. As with Mark Cuban, no one is missing out.