Utah Jazz owner offers a lesson in fan loyalty

After seeing headline after headline after headline about greedy owners screwing over fans to line their pockets, here’s a refreshing bit of news out of Utah.

Gail Miller, the owner of the Utah Jazz, has made her team virtually relocation-proof. She and her family have placed the team in a “legacy trust,” with a requirement that all profits must be invested back into the team — rather than being splurged on mink coats and private jets and whatever else other billionaire owners spend their fans’ money on.

From the Salt Lake Tribune writeup of the deal:

About 30 members of the Miller family sat behind the 73-year-old Miller as she, with tears in her eyes and clutching a game ball she has kept since she and her husband first bought the NBA franchise in 1985, announced a transfer Jazz officials believe is unprecedented in the history of the NBA — and appears to be a first in the four major North American professional sports (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL).

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Officials said the formation of the trust means all profits from the NBA franchise will be reinvested in the team so that the "trust will not provide any material benefit to the family from the Jazz."

"It stays within the company," Haslam said. "The profit that stays in the company will be used basically as retained earnings for expansion, for player salaries or other operations."

Miller and her husband Larry bought the team for about $22 million, so the family would stand to make a massive profit if they wanted to sell or relocate the team. Instead, they’re staying loyal to their Utah fan base and putting people before profits.

The move fits with Miller’s past approach to valuing her team’s fans — the Jazz are in the bottom third of the league in average cost of attending a game, nearly 20% more affordable than the average NBA team.

Now she’s making sure that Jazz fans will continue to be able to root for their team for years and decades to come. As her son Steve said:

The Jazz are not our family's team. They are a community asset. They are the Utah Jazz.

 

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  • published this page in Blog 2017-01-25 17:49:46 -0500