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Ted Leonsis's path to Wizards ownership in doubt

When sports entrepreneur Abe Pollin died in November, it seemed all but certain that Capitals owner Ted Leonsis would purchase the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center en route to building a D.C. sports empire.

In a statement released Nov. 24, Leonsis said that when his company, Lincoln Holdings LLC, bought the Capitals in 1999, "[Pollin] gave us the exclusive right to purchase the remaining portion of the Wizards, Verizon Center and the local Ticketmaster franchise."

Now, however, that exclusive right seems less certain. From Post business reporter Tom Heath:

Ted Leonsis has no exclusive right to purchase the NBA Wizards and Verizon Center, the holding company founded by the late sports entrepreneur Abe Pollin told employees in a memo Tuesday, throwing into doubt the future ownership of one of Washington's biggest sports empires.
The memo goes on to say that "there is no existing limitation" on the Pollin estate to solicit other potential buyers for the assets of Washington Sports & Entertainment, which includes the local Ticketmaster franchise.

Read more on Post Now.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  January 27, 2010; 6:22 PM ET
 | Tags: Ted Leonsis, Washington Wizards  
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Comments

I wonder if this actually benefits Leonsis considering how bad the Wizards are and how the current economy will not provide for many bidders. He likely won't end up overpaying for WSE.

Posted by: AleksanderOMunchkin | January 27, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

So what now, Snyder buys the Wizards and turns the phone booth into an indoor Fedex? Can you imagine! Anything less then Leonsis or a top drawer owner buying the Wiz would do irrapable damage to Pollin's legacy.

Posted by: norfolkoms | January 27, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

In 1999, Pollin snookered Leonsis during their negotiations. To that point, TL had no interest in the Caps. He wanted the b'ball team and the hockey club was a consolation prize.
Sounds like Pollin is still haunting TL from the great beyond.

Posted by: beeman | January 27, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The Post has authored articles that clearly have Ted ending up with Wizards and VC no matter what .. the only question mark being a final appraiser set value .. and Ted's willingness to meet it. Now they publish an article that suggests Ted is not in the driver's seat.

Which one is it?

Posted by: tslats | January 27, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I suspect this is posturing on the part of WSE.

This "internal memo" acknowledges part of what has been part of the succession story as reported since Abe's passing: that Lincoln Holdings will have the opportunity to match any offer. So at worst, even if the arbitration process somehow gets circumvented (which is far certain to happen), Ted still will be able to match any offer and thereby get the Wizards and VC.

During a recession, with a basketball team that has nearly defined NBA mediocrity over the last 30 years, how many other buyers are going to be lining up with huge offers?

Posted by: dcunitedfan3 | January 28, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

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