Phoenix Mercury and Suns franchises for sale

September 23, 2022
After a truckload of public pressure, the Phoenix Mercury and Suns franchises are officially on the market. Majority owner Robert Sarver said Wednesday that he’s started the selling process, tipping off the search for a new owner — and a guessing game about how high the price will be.
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SOURCE: ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: After a truckload of public pressure, the Phoenix Mercury and Suns franchises are officially on the market. Majority owner Robert Sarver said Wednesday that he’s started the selling process, tipping off the search for a new owner — and a guessing game about how high the price will be. Come on down.

The details: Though Sarver has reportedly not yet hired a bank to run the sale, many project the final value to be in the $2—$3 billion range. The lower end reflects the organization’s estimated current valuation of around $1.8—$1.92 billion.

  • Sarver initially picked up a 30% stake for $401 million in 2004, but has increased his interest to approximately 40% during his 18 years with Phoenix.

The value, WNBA edition: Commissioner Cathy Engelbert estimated the league’s value at $1 billion in June, with the average team worth $43.75 million. The figure is quite an upgrade from the average franchise value in January 2021 — $13.7 million.

  • That said, Engelbert’s appraisals are much higher than recent sales. Mark Davis paid just over $2 million for the Las Vegas Aces last year, while Joe Tsai acquired the NY Liberty for somewhere between $10—$14 million in 2019, but mainly assumed the team’s debt.

The value, NBA edition: Price tags are currently hovering in the $1—$2 billion range, depending on location. Tsai also completed his takeover of the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 for a total of $2.35 billion, and Ryan Smith wrote a check for $1.66 billion for the Utah Jazz in 2020. A pretty penny either way.

Zooming out: Though the Suns are the leading attraction, the Mercury certainly increases the desirability of the sale. The 2021 WNBA finalists are one of the top teams in a league unquestionably on the rise, representing an enticing growth opportunity. Here’s hoping the new billionaire is better than the last one.

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