x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Bobcats are ripe to be purchased

While it has been in the works for some time, Bob Johnson finally announced he is selling the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.

While it has been in the works for some time, Bob Johnson finally announced he is selling the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. I believe this team are a solid buy for whoever is looking to purchase an NBA club. On the basic premise that you should buy low, this team are ripe for the picking. Forbes magazine recently ranked the Bobcats as the 29th most valuable out of 30 teams in the league. Forbes estimated the club are worth US$284m (Dh1bn). Johnson paid $300m for the franchise and invested another $30m into the business.

According to some observers, given the state of the US economy, he'll be lucky to get even what Forbes magazine says the club are worth. The San Antonio Spurs franchise, a team in a similar-sized media market, are valued at $415m. The Bobcats have lots of room to grow their business. Not many reasons have been given for team owner Bob Johnson's decision to sell the club. It has been suggested the team have suffered financially because of poor attendance and lagging sponsorship. Insiders have said that Johnson's expensive divorce was a significant factor. Johnson and his wife Sheila started the Black Entertainment Television channel before selling out to Viacom. The sale netted the couple an alleged $1bn after taxes. Needless to say, the divorced Johnson no longer has the deepest pockets.

While Johnson's fortunes have sagged, the Bobcats basketball team have improved. After hiring coach Larry Brown, the Bobcats enjoyed a decent 2008-2009 season. The team finished with a 35-47 record, missing the play-offs by only four victories. With young point guard D J Augustin and versatile forwards Boris Diaw, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor, the team are on the rise. Charlotte is situated in the cradle of basketball. Besides Indiana, no other area has as great a basketball tradition as the state of North Carolina. Some have suggested Charlotte's basketball fans are more inclined to support the college game, however, all things being equal, basketball is basketball and if the Bobcats were decent, they would have decent support.

Michael Jordan, North Carolina's most famous athlete, now serves as team executive. And owning the team who Jordan works for has a certain cache. As in, the future Bobcats team owner can proudly say: "Yeah, Michael Jordan works for me." Aesthetically, Charlotte sits in one of the most beautiful areas of the United States. If you were to have a team in the US, and you had to visit during the North American winter, Charlotte's mild climate wouldn't scare you off.

Buying an NBA team is as much a vanity decision as it is a business decision. Some teams, such as the Dallas Mavericks, have not made money, focusing instead on signing up the best players money can buy. That said, the Los Angeles Clippers have made a great deal of money by concentrating on the bottom line. Which is to say, if you want to make money running a team, it is possible and some teams are doing it right now.

Perhaps the biggest issue for a sports team is the quality of the arena. The Sacramento Kings team are going broke because they have a terrible arena. The Bobcats, on the other hand, have a new state of the art building in downtown Charlotte. Better yet, because of the team's deal with the city, the Bobcats get all of the arena's profits. Having other sources of revenue is never a bad thing for a business.

While there is ample reason to be bearish in the current market, the team with the most famous Bull make me especially bullish on the Bobcats. @Email:gdole@thenational.ae