Miller family sells Utah Jazz to Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith.
Jazz owner Gail Miller made the announcement during a press conference at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Ryan and Ashley Smith affirmed their commitment to Utah at the event.
From the press conference
- “I’ve said before that my life has definitely been an unexpected journey, and if 2020 has been anything, it qualifies as another one of those unexpected journeys,” Miller said.
- The sale should be finalized by the end of the year. It is subject to the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. Smith will also purchase The Zone Sports Network in a separate transaction.
- Dealerships Larry H. Miller, Larry H. Miller Real Estate, Prestige Financial Services and Megaplex Theaters will continue to be part of the LHM Group.
- “Today is a day that I could never imagine,” Miller said at the press conference, but added that she has complete faith in the Smiths.
- “Selling the Utah Jazz was a huge decision,” Miller said.
- Miller noted that she and her late husband, Larry, bought the Jazz 35 years ago. “It was the beginning of adventures of unimaginable proportions for us and our family. We were young and full of excitement to be stewards of a unique asset and share it with Utah and beyond. We have cherished this stewardship and especially the unifying influence it has had on our city, our state and even the country and the world,” she said.
- Miller addressed in ad the legacy trust in which the Jazz franchise was invested in 2017, which was designed to ensure the team would stay in Utah. “I am fully confident that with this sale, the goals of this trust will always be honored and I want you to know that the new owners have made the same commitment to keep the team in Utah,” Miller said.
- “I believe Ryan and Ashley embody the things that we hold dear as a family, and as I’ve said before, they are absolutely committed to keeping the Jazz in Utah. I am confident they will take the team to the next level while honoring our history, our shared goals and our work,” Miller said.
- “Selling the Utah Jazz was a big decision, but it becomes a catalyst for our family and businesses to continue to evolve and enrich lives, while allowing Ashley and Ryan to begin their journey. Our family is waiting looking forward to the adventures that Ryan and Ashley will create on this journey, and we wish them the best,” Miller said.
- Miller also thanked her husband, Kim, as well as her late husband, Larry, “for making this absolutely remarkable journey possible. We all love and care about you and appreciate your support all these years.
- Smith said: “We couldn’t be more humble. We couldn’t be more honored by your trust. Your 35-year stewardship and legacy is one that I believe as Utahns we are all indebted to you and the Miller family. Our commitment is that we will build on this legacy, and we will continue, including Larry’s legacy. … We couldn’t be more grateful for you. We know that everything you do is good, and that’s what the Miller family does.
- Ryan Smith said he approached the Millers a few times to buy the team. “There’s no secret about my interest in the NBA, and there really is no secret about my interest in the Jazz. I grew up watching the Jazz. It’s the team I love. encouraged. I played Junior Jazz. I dreamed of playing for Jazz, but it didn’t work out.
- “Jazz is a gift to this whole community, and that’s how we see it,” he said. “That’s 100% our vision, and we’re looking to use that platform to keep doing good.”
- “I think we have the best fans in the world,” he said.
- “We’re really excited,” Ashley Smith said. “We love basketball. We love jazz and we really love Utah, so this is a great event for us. We’re blown away and honored to be able to share this experience with Utah and Jazz Nation.
- “For us, Jazz has been about love for our little family. It’s about love. It’s about spending time together. It’s about sharing experiences, sharing victories or defeats or lessons learned and hard work and all the ups and downs that come with any great adventure, and I think it’s really going to be an amazing adventure, and an adventure that we can share with all of you, and that’s exciting.
- “We are committed to the vision (of the Millers). We’re attached to Utah and we’re attached to the Jazz, so let’s go,” she said.
What is happening
“ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first announced Wednesday morning that the Millers would sell the Jazz after 35 years of ownership.
Simultaneously, the Jazz announced that Miller would “be making a special virtual announcement today from Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah” at 10 a.m., but later confirmed the news in a press release.
The announcement says Vivint Arena, the Salt Lake City Stars of the NBA G League and the “management” of the Salt Lake Bees are also included in the sale.
Smith and the Miller family have been linked in recent months to the sale of Utah Soccer Holdings, which includes Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC and Rio Tinto Stadium, among other properties, but it’s unclear whether the two are related.
“I have known Ryan for several years and admire the values by which he and his wife, Ashley, live their lives,” Gail Miller said in a statement. “They have such a love and connection to Utah and this team. Due to our friendship and several high profile conversations over the years, Ryan recently approached our organization to inquire about the possibility of purchase the Utah Jazz and some of our other sports and entertainment properties.
“After much soul-searching, long discussions and careful assessments of our long-term goals, my family and I have decided that now is the right time to pass on our responsibility and our cherished stewardship of 35 years to Ryan and Ashley, who share our values and are committed. to keep the team in Utah. We are confident that they will continue the work we have started and take the team to the next level. Our family remains invested in the success of Utah Jazz and these businesses, and we will retain a minority stake.
Said Smith in a statement: “The Miller family has had an incredible impact on countless people across the Utah Jazz and the other organizations they lead. We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for their incredible stewardship of this asset over the past 35 years. My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team far into the future, especially with the NBA’s biggest fans. The Utah Jazz, the State of Utah and its capital are the beneficiaries of the Millers’ immense love, generosity and investment. We look forward to building on their lifelong work.