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Posted at 5:53 PM ET, 01/27/2010

Leonsis's path to ownership in doubt

By Terri Rupar

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. The memo, written by Peter Biché, president of business operations for Washington Sports, acknowledges that Leonsis, whose holding company owns the Washington Capitals and 44 percent of Washington Sports, has the right of first refusal to match any offer the Pollins receive.

The news is likely to complicate what so far have been civil negotiations between representatives of Leonsis, a former AOL mogul, and the Pollin estate, that started in early January and continued until last week, when the two sides ended talks without an agreement. The two sides are believed to be more than $100 million apart in price, according to sources who spoke on the condition they not be identified.

--Thomas Heath

By Terri Rupar  | January 27, 2010; 5:53 PM ET
 
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Comments

The thot plickens.

Posted by: VBFan | January 27, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

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 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Theres no such thing as an exclusive right to purchase in contracts. What Leonsis has is virtually the same thing. Go look it up in a legal dictionary

Posted by: JDP_ | January 27, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

"The news is likely to complicate what so far have been civil negotiations"

Why would it complicate things? Surely Leonsis already knew this, and WSE simply telling it's employees the real deal -- as opposed to what was clearly reported incorrectly by the media -- doesn't seem like such a big deal.

Hmmm?

Posted by: cooldavej | January 27, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

The Cooke family clusterf***** that franchise sale....

so who should be surprised that the Pollin family would be just as screwed up.....

Posted by: FletcherChristian1 | January 27, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

God I hate the Pollins!

Posted by: MrWillie | January 27, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't be too big a problem. Imagine if Danny S decides he wants a basketball team to go with his football team!!

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | January 27, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

This is too funny. That old fart Pollin screws the Wizards fans for YEARS through his mismanagement of the team. Now, he is screwing them from the grave. There is no doubt that Leonsis is the best thing that could happen to the Wiz and their fans.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 27, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Fricknoutstandin: actually, I was hopoing that Leonsis decided he wanted a football team to go with his hockey and (hopefully) basketball team.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 27, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

This sounds bad. Could be possible for another ownership to buy the team and move the team to another city....like what happened in Seattle.

Posted by: bdbyptr | January 27, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

According to my math, that's about the size of Gilbert Arenas' contract, so between the two sides that shouldn't be a lot of money. The sticking point has to be something else. Ted, offer them the prime suite for life, for free, name it after Abe and call it a day. Plus just pay the money.

Posted by: Carole5520 | January 27, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Really, Mr. Willie, you hate the Pollins?

Do you hate having a arena in Washington instead of Raljon or losing the team to some hick city like Oklahoma City?

Do you hate being able to walk around downtown without having to fear for your safety?

Do you hate being able to eat at the restaurants in Gallery Place/Penn Quarter?

I doubt it. And since Abe Pollin made all of that possible, I think you should show some respect to a man who loved this city and did more for this city than anyone else over the last 50 years.

And the rest of you chicken littles should put a sock in it too, considering that this is pure gamesmanship. The memo still says Leonsis has right of first refusal. He's almost certainly not going to bid against himself. He'll wait until WSE sees that no one wants to pay that much for a team whose star player is playing for the Lorton Penitentiary All-Stars, and then he'll match that lesser offer.

No harm. No foul. And Le Boulez will be in Leonsis's hands soon enough.

Posted by: BornonChesapeakeStreet | January 27, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Great. They can sell it to Danny S. That worked out for the Redskins. Maybe someone else will come along and move them to Seattle.

Posted by: didnik | January 27, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Theres no such thing as an exclusive right to purchase in contracts. What Leonsis has is virtually the same thing. Go look it up in a legal dictionary

Posted by: JDP_ | January 27, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

My thoughts EXACTLY. I'd love to know who at the Post thought this was newsworthy.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 27, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Is Mr. Heath trying to create news on a slow news day?

His story of 11/25/2009 says the following:

"Leonsis entered into the partnership with Pollin a decade ago, when Leonsis and then-partner Jonathan Ledecky purchased the Capitals for $85 million. They also bought a piece of the Wizards and Verizon Center, then known as MCI Center, and a right-of-first-refusal to purchase the rest of Pollin's sports holdings if and when Pollin decided to sell or died."

Doesn't appear that the memo floated today by WSE changes any of that. The process continues as originally described.

Go find some real news.

Posted by: RiverRat56 | January 27, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Washington Sports acts in the fiduciary interests of the Pollin Estate and they have an obligation to get the highest bid.

Posted by: nativedc | January 27, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Hey BornonChesapeakeStreet -- Shut up. You're WAY too full of yourself.

Posted by: Urnesto | January 27, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

After reading these, I'm beginning to think we hate each other as much or more than we hate Dallas or Pittsburgh fans. Who needs enemies when you can get all juiced up hating your fellow fan? Heck, even Caps fans give each other a hard time if they show that they don't know the sport well enough or if they just got interested in hockey. Is it because we're in Washington where the primary industry is BS? Might be something there.

Posted by: JoeTink | January 27, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

This isn't news. The Pollin family certainly has the right to get a fair price for their assets. They can entertain as many offers as they wish. Ted has the right to match any offers. If somebody offers some crazy amount that Ted won't match, the team could go to someone else. That's about the sum of it....

Posted by: randysbailin | January 27, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

randysballin wrote, "This isn't news. The Pollin family certainly has the right to get a fair price for their assets. They can entertain as many offers as they wish. Ted has the right to match any offers. If somebody offers some crazy amount that Ted won't match, the team could go to someone else. That's about the sum of it...."

This is entirely incorrect. DC has "right of first refusal" to all tenants who rent any commercial or residential property within the District. The "process" that Ted repeatedly refers to as the reason to ensure a seamless shift of ownership is nothing more than existing commercial tenancy law. All renters in DC have a right to buy the property they are renting at Fair Market Value and must sign over that the renter does not intend to buy the property (commercial or private). ALL RENTERS have a right to have the property being sold appraised by their own real estate agent or real estate lawyer before refusing. Any time the Renter and Landlord do not agree on the market value of the property there MUST be a third party appraiser appointed to assess the value of that property. If at that time EITHER the owner or the renter disagree with the 3rd party assessment, then the party who doesn't like the price may file a motion: The owner would move to be allowed to take outside bids on the property (which if the court sides with the owner, the renter MUST be allowed to match and to whom the owner must sell if the renter does match the "outside" bid). The renter could move to have sale of the property halted until the court has assessed the value of the property, to prevent paying more than the renter considers fair market value. (In most commercial cases, the court says the 3rd party appraisal is the last word on price.)

Since that's the law in DC as of January of this year (2010) Peter Biché can write all the memos he wants. DC law is Waterford Crystal Clear on this. Nobody can sell property out from under a renter. A renter must literally SIGN AWAY their intent to buy before a landlord can even so much as put up a ReMax sign.

It'll take a while but this will break Teddy's way.

Posted by: Kdarienzo | January 28, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Whoever buys this team can take them the hell out of this city!! That franchise is CURSED. It needs to new ownership, new players and probably a new city and a new name. Tear it all apart...and get them out of here!

Posted by: NothingButTheTruth | January 28, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Ted will get the franchise soon enough and I guess this Peter Biche guy is either getting getting a cut from the Pollins or is tired of working there beucause if I'm Ted when I get the franchise he's toast.

Posted by: curlybyrd | January 28, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I think all Caps fans are concerned about is whether Leonsis gets to own more if all of Verizon Center. Put those other lame basketball or college games to start at like 7 in the morning so that the Caps can finally play on better ice than they're forced to play on. J/k.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | January 28, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I wish Ted could buy just the Verizon Center and the Ticketmaster franchise - then he can stay focused on hockey!

Posted by: theshawn | January 28, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Leonsis responded to this stuff on his blog, Ted's Take, and outlined the process in detail. Both the Washington Sports and Entertainment memo and the Post story are highly misleading. The Post's headline was even worse.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 28, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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