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,” said Gail Miller. “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.”
Upon closing of the transaction, Smith will become the NBA Governor of the Utah Jazz and its affiliates, and he will have final decision-making authority for all business and basketball operations related to the team and other assets included in this transaction. Steve Starks, in addition to his role as chief executive officer for the LHM Group, will be an advisor.
“The Miller family has had an unbelievable impact on countless people through the Utah Jazz and the other organizations they run,” said Smith. “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