The Utah Jazz will soon have new ownership. On Wednesday, the Miller family, who has owned the team since the mid-1980s, announced that they have entered into an agreement to sell a majority stake in the Jazz to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith. The deal also includes Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake City Stars of the NBA G League and management of the Triple-A baseball affiliate Salt Lake Bees.
Smith will buy the Jazz for $1.66 billion, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. In order for the sale to become official, it must be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.
From the Jazz:
Gail Miller, owner and chair of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies (LHM Group), and the Miller family today announced they have entered into definitive agreements to sell a majority interest in the Utah Jazz and other sports and entertainment properties to technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith, co-founder of Utah-based Qualtrics. Included in the pending transaction are the Utah Jazz, Vivint Arena, the National Basketball Association (NBA) G League Salt Lake City Stars, and management of the Triple-A baseball affiliate Salt Lake Bees.
Smith has been a strong corporate partner of the Utah Jazz for many years and was co-creator of the “5 For The Fight” jersey patch, the first philanthropic jersey patch in the history of North American professional sports. 5 For The Fight has raised over $25 million since the patch partnership was announced just three years ago.
“I have known Ryan for several years and admire the values by which he and his wife Ashley live their lives,” Gail Miller, 77, said in a statement. “They have such love for and a connection to Utah and this team. Because of our friendship and several high-level conversations over the years, Ryan recently approached our organization to inquire about the possibility of purchasing the Utah Jazz and some of our other sports and entertainment properties.
“After much soul searching, lengthy discussions and extensive evaluations of our long-term goals, my family and I decided this was the right time to pass our responsibility and cherished stewardship of 35 years to Ryan and Ashley, who share our values and are committed to keeping the team in Utah. We have every confidence they will continue the work we have undertaken and move the team to the next level. Our family remains invested in the success of the Utah Jazz and these businesses, and we will retain a minority interest.”
The Jazz enjoyed some serious success during the Millers’ run as owners. They won eight division titles and two conference titles. They lost both of their NBA Finals appearances to the Chicago Bulls in 1997 and 1998. Smith will look to build off of that success, and guide the Jazz to their first championship.
“The Miller family has had an unbelievable impact on countless people through the Utah Jazz and the other organizations they run,” Smith said in a statement. “We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for the amazing stewardship they have had over this asset for the past 35 years. My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future – especially with the greatest fans in the NBA. The Utah Jazz, the state of Utah, and its capital city are the beneficiaries of the Millers’ tremendous love, generosity and investment. We look forward to building upon their lifelong work.”
The Jazz finished the 2019-20 NBA season with a record of 44-28, which was good for sixth in the Western Conference. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets in seven games.