Bruce Levenson departed from his role as the leader of the consortium owning the Atlanta Hawks and handed over control to billionaire Tony Ressler. The recent ownership history of the Hawks can be seen as a sign of the changing times in the ownership options for NBA teams and sports franchises around the world. The move towards billionaire owners has been a short one and has taken place in the decade since the Atlanta Hawks were purchased by the Bruce Levenson led Atlanta Spirit consortium. In just a decade the value of the Atlanta Hawks rocketed from the $250 million paid by Atlanta Spirit for the Hawks and Thrashers franchises with the operating rights for Philips Arena to a figure reported to be between $750 million and $850 million.
The shocking fact for fans of the NBA and sports fans in general lies in the realization the Hawks were originally valued at around $1 billion. A number of experts had claimed this valuation was a little too high, which the final sale figure shows was a correct part of the valuation.
Becoming the new custodian of a franchise means more than simply being able to invest in the team and officials. Instead, Bruce Levenson led the Hawks to success on the field and off it. For the most part, Levenson will be remembered as a strong leader who made sure the Hawks improved year after year. But, he also led the franchise back to the hearts of the local people of Atlanta through the large amount of community based work they completed and the many charitable programs added to the work of the franchise. Amongst the charitable programs Levenson made sure the Hawks were involved in are the Make A Wish Foundation and the US Holocaust Museum.
Tony Ressler has been involved in bidding for NBA franchises in the past and will look to create a successful franchise challenging at the latter stages of the NBA playoffs, year after year. He will also be looking to continue the work begun by Bruce Levenson that has made the Hawks a vital part of the life of the people of Atlanta and the surrounding areas of Georgia. After failed bids for the LA Clippers, which saw the franchise eventually sold for $2 billion, the consortium headed by Tony Ressler has set about its work to push the Atlanta Hawks forward into the future as an NBA force and a community based basketball team.