Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Owners Back In Court Today

Far less (at least on a moment-to-moment basis) interesting to watch than the Hawks' West Coast road trip, events perhaps more important to the franchise's future are set to transpire in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County (MD) beginning today.

Kristi E. Swartz will cover the trial for the AJC. From her long piece on Saturday:
A court document from Hawks and Thrashers co-owner Steve Belkin probably says it best:

“At this time, the parties dispute all issues in this case.”

Belkin is suing his seven business partners — four who live in Atlanta and three who are in the Washington, D.C., area — over how much his 30 percent stake in the teams and Philips Arena’s operating rights are worth. The owners want to buy out Belkin, who lives in Boston, but the contract that spells out that process is so vague that they haven’t been able to agree on a process or a price.

The dispute will come to a head Tuesday in Montgomery County, Md., Circuit Court. It will be up to Judge Durke Thompson to make sense out of the contract and decide whether it’s Belkin or the seven other partners who can select the next appraiser to place a value on the teams and arena operating rights.

The trial, which is expected to last about two weeks, is in Maryland because the owners previously agreed to litigate there. Each side has the right to appeal the judge’s decision, which could drag the already protracted legal process on for another nine months to a year, leaving the ownership of the teams in limbo yet again.
Resolution still does not appear imminent but any progress toward the time when someone owns the team outright and must take responsibility for the direction of the franchise is welcome.


Unknown said...

It would be nice for all of this foolishness to be behind us. I can only imagine how tough it would be to be the general manager for a team in this situation, having to make decisions that not only make basketball sense, but that the partners will agree to as well. Hopefully this matter can be resolved quickly so that we can move forward in the development of the franchise...

Preston Heard said...

I'm going to give you some first-hand insight on the developments. I'm going to sit in on the trial for at least one or two days. I will try to make it to closing arguments so I can get a feel for how the trial went.

Needless to say, this will certainly not end the madness, as the loser will appeal the Judge's decision (which is a shame, because Thompson is an extremely fair and good judge).

Bret LaGree said...

I like forward to that. Your first-hand insight will certainly provide value over and above my second-hand suppositions.