Ed Snider Rumors

Ed Snider, who brought hockey to Philadelphia in 1967 as founder of the Flyers, is battling an unspecified cancer and completed chemotherapy this week, according to several sources. “He’s going to work every day and it’s treatable,” a source in the organization said. The condition is “non-life-threatening” and Snider is “doing well,” said Ike Richman, a spokesman for Comcast-Spectacor, the Flyers’ parent company. “He is happy and healthy.”
After the Sixers won the championship, Pollack said, “the 76ers were in a strong position to negotiate about coming [to the Spectrum]. Kosloff swung a sweetheart of a deal every year it was in effect. “That’s how they got [Kosloff] to come here, or else there wouldn’t have been the Flyers. I don’t think they would have gone ahead and built the building if it was only the Flyers.” So, the deal was struck, and the Sixers made the big move into the state-of-the-art Spectrum.
But Ed Snider, one of the young minority owners of the Philadelphia Eagles, had become a fan of the National Hockey League and had heard that the league was about to expand. Keeping it to himself, so that no one else in the city would bid against him, Snider secured the rights to an expansion team. A big part of Snider’s presentation to the NHL was that the new team would play in a new arena, one that he would get built. But Snider could not even begin to think of building an arena until he had secured a partner, another team that would fill seats at least 30 to 35 times a year. And he had a plum in his own backyard, a 76ers team that would eventually be called the greatest team in the history of the NBA. Former Philadelphia Warriors owner Eddie Gottlieb, one of the all-time great movers and shakers in the history of the NBA, knew Snider needed help. “Eddie Gottlieb often told me in conversation that before that building can make money,” recalled super statman Harvey Pollack, who served as a publicist under Gottlieb with the Warriors, “they have to have 150 dates in which the building is used during the course of a year.”
In the complaint, Shine claims he introduced Levien and other potential buyers to Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider in November and December 2010. Levien was identified as a potential buyer in a written agreement between the company, Shine and Whitsitt in January, according to the complaint. Ike Richman, a spokesman for Philadelphia-based Comcast- Spectacor, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.
By the end of the month, Comcast-Spectactor should be out of the basketball business when the NBA is expected to approve the sale of the team to buyout specialist Joshua Harris. Snider inherited one of the worst teams in the league in 1996 and had the Sixers in the NBA finals in 2001. The Sixers were mired in mediocrity for most of the last decade, and sagging crowds and massive financial losses led Comcast-Spectactor to pitch a “for sale” sign and strike a tentative deal to sell in July. “It was mostly economics,” Snider said of the decision. Losing money? “A lot,” Snider said, declining specifics. “We felt that we had given it our best shot and it was time for someone else to take over.”
Harris, who is worth $1.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “We are honored to have the opportunity to be affiliated with this storied franchise,” Harris said in a press release. “As a basketball fan who attended college in Philadelphia, and with family roots here, I have always felt a strong connection to this city and the 76ers. We look forward to helping the 76ers organization build on this past season’s accomplishments in the years ahead. The ownership group also looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Comcast-Spectacor.”
Comcast-Spectacor agreed Wednesday to sell the 76ers to a group led by New York City billionaire Joshua Harris. The deal, worth a reported $280 million for 90 percent control, still has to be approved by the NBA’s board of governors. The deal does not include the Wells Fargo Center or the Philadelphia Flyers, although the Sixers will remain a tenant of the building. Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider will retain 10 percent of the team, but will not have control over the team’s operations.
Now the deal must be approved by the league’s board of governors. The NBA needs to approve the sale and they will be thorough in their investigation. It is difficult to say exactly how long that will take but according to Adam Silver, the NBA’s deputy commissioner, the process can be lengthy. “It’s difficult to say how long the process would take before we see what the actual deal is but the process usually takes about two months,” he explained in an e-mail. “But it could be longer depending on how many background checks need to be conducted, the type of financing the buyers are using, etc. Approval does not have to be done in person but a group of owners would need to interview the buyers at some point before the board votes.”
Sources have put the value of the deal at $280 million for a 90 percent share of the team. Comcast-Spectacor and owner Ed Snider will retain 10 percent of the team, but will not retain operational control. Also, the deal does not include the Wells Fargo Center, which currently houses the Sixers and the NHL’s Flyers. The Sixers will become a long-term tenant of the Wells Fargo Center, which should ease worries that Harris has any intention of moving the team. According to Comcast-Spectacor’s press release: “The team will remain a long-term tenant of the Wells Fargo Center and will have a long-term cable broadcast agreement for its games with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.”
Comcast-Spectacor is in the final stages of negotiating terms of its sale of the 76ers to a group of investors led by New York billionaire Joshua Harris. Although multiple sources have confirmed that the deal is “not yet done,” those same sources confirmed that the sale is in its final stages and that an announcement is expected any time, likely within the next two business days and even as early as Wednesday. Once the two parties have agreed on terms, the sale will go to the NBA’s board of governors for approval. Despite the current NBA lockout – there is a moratorium on player movement, and communication between teams and players is barred – the sale of a franchise can still be processed.
Comcast-Spectacor celebrated when they bought the Sixers in April 1996 from Harold Katz. There will be some high-fiving in the Comcast Tower in the next 48 hours to end the company’s ownership as well. “This is a great deal for Comcast,” said the source. The source said that the prospective new ownership group will remain committed to having its games televised on Comcast SportsNet for the foreseeable future, and will also remain tenants at the Well Fargo Center. Of the new owners, the source said “these guys are crazy,” to be making the deal.
There was no immediate word on a sale price, which does not include the Wells Fargo Center or the NHL’s Flyers, sources said Tuesday. David Blitzer of The Blackstone Group will join Harris as lead partner, according to sources familiar with the deal. Former player agent and Sacramento Kings executive Jason Levien also is part of the proposed ownership group, sources said. Apollo, which describes itself on its web site as specializing in “contrarian” investments and “distressed” assets, and Blackstone are not involved in the transaction.
The Philadelphia 76ers likely will be sold to a group led by Joshua Harris, a director at Apollo Global Management LLC, in the next few business days, two people familiar with the negotiations said. Harris will pay about $280 million, according to one of the people, who were granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the sale publicly. Harris co-founded Apollo Management in 1990, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and a master’s degree from the Harvard Business School. Apollo went public in March. Comcast-Spectacor, the holding company that owns the National Basketball Association team, said a month ago that it was exploring a sale.
Twenty-five years later, a group led by New York billionaire Joshua Harris is negotiating to buy the 76ers, and Williams said it will be important for the current team management to quickly get on the same page with the new owner. Even if the new owner does not have much – or any – experience in running a franchise, it’s vital for management and the coaching staff to have a strong rapport with the new boss. “New ownership comes in and wants to make a difference. . . . They want to put their stamp on it,” (Pat) Williams said in a phone interview. “The worry [for management] is that new owners with no background in basketball will become ‘experts’ in two weeks. If you can get through that, and they begin to understand that this isn’t an exact science and doesn’t relate fully to how they made their money, and it’s a whole industry fully unto itself.”
Former 76ers coach and president Larry Brown said he wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s news that Comcast-Spectacor was deep in negotiations to sell the franchise. Brown said he believes it’s a decision Comcast-Spectacor chairman and CEO Ed Snider “has been weighing for quite a while.” “I have some friends who are close friends with Ed,” said Brown, most recently the head coach of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. “I don’t think Mr. Snider wants to do anything [halfway]. . . . I would imagine in this time of his life, if he wasn’t able to give 100 percent, he’d rather have somebody else do it.”
Blitzer created the London-based European office of the Blackstone Group, one of the largest private-investment groups in the world. After joining Blackstone in 1991, Blitzer worked on several projects, including one that involved the massive shopping-mall real estate holdings of former Pittsburgh Penguins and San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Sr. and his family. Blitzer was in charge of executing Blackstone’s investments in Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. In 1994, the mall developer took his company public in a deal that, at the time, was to have converted $121 million in Blackstone debt into an 8 percent stake in the DeBartolo empire. Today, Blitzer is senior managing director and cochair of Blackstone’s private-equity group.
But while theories abounded Tuesday, the only thing abundantly clear as word spread of talks to sell the 76ers was this: The investors leading the group seeking to buy the NBA franchise from Ed Snider and Comcast-Spectacor were not talking. Those two men are Joshua Harris and David S. Blitzer, graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who have become big figures in private-equity finance. Harris cofounded New York-based Apollo Global Management L.L.C. in 1990. The company went public April 4, and its executives told investors last month that the firm had $70 billion in total assets under management, up from $56 billion a year earlier. Harris is senior managing director of Apollo, which invests heavily in distressed properties, including real estate and the stranded assets of European banks, such as corporations, real estate, and consumer loans. Before launching Apollo, he worked at the former Philadelphia firm Drexel Burnham Lambert. He remains active with Wharton as a member of its Undergraduate Executive Board. In Forbes’ 2010 billionaire rankings, he was reported to have a net worth of $1.2 billion.
The third source close to the deal cautioned that while this deal is advanced, multiple hurdles remain to be cleared. This same source put finalization of the deal – if such a thing is to happen – at about a week, possibly 10 days. Harris declined comment through a spokeswoman. Snider did not return a phone message, but Peter Luukko, Comcast-Spectacor president and chief operating officer, issued a statement. “I can confirm that we are in discussions about the future of the team, but these discussions are confidential and we cannot talk about the details,” Luukko said. “At some point, we may have something more to say about these discussions, but we will not be making any comments at this point.”