SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Utah Jazz will soon be under new ownership after the Miller Family announced plans to sell the team Wednesday morning.
The late Larry H. Miller and his wife Gail purchased the team for $22 million back in 1985. Now they’re selling a majority interest for a reported $1.66 billion.
“There’s no question that we have had a long and rewarding journey these last 35 years,” Mrs. Miller said during a news conference Wednesday. “Today is a day I have never been able to imagine.”
It’s almost impossible for a generation of Jazz fans to imagine either: the Millers relinquishing control of the team and the arena they built for it with a sale pending to 42-year-old BYU graduate Ryan Smith, the co-founder, and CEO of software company Qualtrics.
“I grew up watching the Jazz. This is the team I cheered for,” Smith said. “I played Junior Jazz like I dreamed of playing for the Jazz but that didn’t work out.”
“I believe Ryan and Ashley embody the things that we as a family hold dear,” Mrs. Miller added. “They are absolutely committed to keeping the Jazz in Utah.”
Mrs. Miller, who three years ago created a legacy trust to keep the team in Salt Lake City, called this a “huge decision”. She thanked her family and her employees before her thoughts turned to the Jazz fans and her late husband Larry who was passionate about the team all the way up to his death in 2009.
“I also want to thank Larry for making this absolutely remarkable journey possible,” she said through tears. “We love all of you and we care about all of you and we appreciate your support all these years.”
The sale has not been finalized. It still needs to approved by the NBA Board of Governors.
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