Seahawks, Trail Blazers remain not for sale, nearly five years after Paul Allen’s passing
The Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, sports teams owned by the estate of the late Paul Allen, eventually will be sold. But they continue to not be for sale.
A new article from Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal focuses primarily on the ongoing efforts of Nike founder Phil Knight and real-estate investor Alan Smolinisky to buy the Trail Blazers. They continue to express interest, and they continue to be rebuffed.
Both teams are being managed by Paul Allen’s sister, Jody. As his estate is being managed, it’s clear that the NFL and NBA franchises will eventually be sold. For now, they continue to be not for sale.
“As Jody publicly said last year, the sports teams are not for sale,” a spokesman for Vulcan Inc. told Bachman. “That will eventually change pursuant to Paul’s wishes, but there is no pre-ordained timeline for when that will happen. Interested parties can engage when we establish a sales process at some point in the future.”
That point in the future remains unknown. The statement emphasized that the administration of the Paul Allen estate will balance the overall strategy with getting the best possible outcome for each individual asset and asset class.
At a time when the value of NFL and NBA teams continues to mushroom, there’s no reason to sell now. As to the Seahawks, the deal to build the team’s stadium contains a requirement to give 10 percent of the proceeds to the state of Washington if the team is sold before May 21, 2024.
Still, it’s unclear how long the estate will keep the Seahawks after May 21, 2024. As purchase prices go from a record high of $4.65 billion last year to $6.05 billion this year, why not wait?
Jody Allen seems to be content to do so. Although rarely in the public eye, she sent an email to the Wall Street Journal pointing out that she often talked to Paul about the Seahawks and Trail Blazers, that she “regularly advised him and team leaders on various matters,” and that she “led development of both Moda Center [where the Trail Blazers play] and Lumen Field, and [has] attended games for many years.”
She added that, as the chair for both franchises, her “focus is building championship teams and managing the franchises for the long term.” She also explained that she works with General Managers, team presidents, and coaches on significant decisions regarding the sports, business, and organizational realities the two teams encounter.
Time remains on Jody Allen’s side. With the Paul Allen estate focusing mainly on supporting his charitable causes, there’s no impatient family member banging on the table about turning an asset into cash. Ultimately, it comes down to a strategic assessment of timing.
When is the right moment to cash out? When can the most money be gotten, considering the reality that, at some point, the estate needs to be resolved?
At some point, that will happen. At some point, the team will be sold. Maybe, along the way, Jody Allen can get someone like Jeff Bezos to offer a premium, given that Jody Allen has a loose mandate to sell -- but little or no urgency to make a sale.