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Phoenix Suns are third U.S. pro team now for sale in 2022

Sep 22, 2022
Illustration of a basketball with the seam shaped like a dollar symbol

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A buyers' market is emerging for billionaires seeking a pro sports team. The latest opening: The NBA's Phoenix Suns became the third major U.S. professional sports franchise to hang a "for sale" sign in 2022.

Why it matters: It's already been a record year for professional sports sales, with Chelsea F.C. and the NFL's Denver Broncos combining to sell for over $7 billion. But too many teams entering the market at the same time could threaten to drive down prices.

Driving the news: A week after being hit with a one-year suspension over workplace harassment allegations, Suns owner Robert Sarver announced he is starting the process to sell the Suns and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.

  • A report from an independent investigation earlier this month found that Sarver "repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others" and engaged in "inequitable conduct toward female employees," substantiating prior allegations.
  • "I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world," Sarver said in a statement.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver called the decision "the right next step for the organization and community."
  • The Suns are valued at $1.8 billion, per Forbes.

The big picture: Along with the Suns, Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels are also on the block.

  • Former Disney CEO Bob Iger could be among those interested in the Suns. A report in Puck News last year mentioned Iger has been eying the Suns ever since allegations were first reported against Sarver.

What's next: Billionaires who miss out on these teams may not have to wait too much longer. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's death in 2018 left the futures of the NBA's Portland Trailblazers and NFL's Seattle Seahawks up in the air.

  • Portland-based sports journalist John Canzano reported Allen stipulated his trust be liquidated upon his death.
  • Allen's sister Jody has been managing the Paul G. Allen Trust since his death and has signaled that she has no intention of selling either team in the near future, though "a time will come when that changes."
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