Sale of Grizzlies to Pera's ownership group moves one step close - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Sale of Grizzlies to Pera's ownership group moves one step closer

(WMC-TV) - A former billionaire, a pop star, a former congressman, and a number of Memphis city business leaders all want to be partners in a deal to buy the Memphis Grizzlies.

Tuesday, the "partner ownership" signed a deal with the City of Memphis and Shelby County.

The city CAO called it an "administrative matter."

The full council is in the process of approving it right now.

An operating agreement for FedEx Forum is transferring hands. It is one more step in the impending sale of the basketball team.

After a pitch from city attorney Herman Morris, a city council committee unanimously approved the switch.

"It's a pro forma assignment. Our Riggs are all still held just as if, we're just changing a name on a document," said Shea Flinn, Memphis City Council.

The city and county have an operating agreement with the Grizzlies concerning the use of FedEx Forum. That contract was originally signed with Michael Heisley's ownership group. It will now transfer as is to Robert Pera's ownership group.

David Carlock represents Pera and says rushing the arena use agreement through city council approval will help get the franchise sale agreement to the NBA as soon as possible.

"The final approval by the league is subject to securing the arena consent," said Carlock. "We're right up against the new NBA season starting. We believe strongly as the league does that it's in the best interest of the team and we believe the community to affect the transaction as quickly as possible."

The city's attorney says the city should only worry about the Grizzlies winning more games.

"The city is very well protected in the agreement," said Morris. "If there is an effort to leave prematurely there's a significant penalty. We don't expect that with this group. We expect them to stay here and build a winner in this market."

After the meeting, Carlock declined to take questions. But moments earlier, he assured the council committee Pera is looking forward to visiting the Bluff City.

"He'd be thrilled to come down. He's excited about getting to know Memphis and winning some basketball games, doing right by the community, and having some fun," said Carlock.

Edward Dobbs, Staley Cates, and Pitt Hyde were the only members of the local ownership group that Carlock was willing to confirm Tuesday.

The county will have to approve this operating agreement transfer, too.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.


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