Joshua Harris is expected to complete his purchase of the New Jersey Devils tomorrow, my 30th birthday (in case any of you wanted to get me a present). John Gonzalez has been all over this story and he brings us this latest bit, which is, well, maddening:
Sources close to the situation have indicated that Joshua Harris’ investment group is expected to finalize the purchase of the New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center on Thursday. Sources also tell CSNPhilly.com that Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil will be installed as the Devils’ CEO and serve in that capacity, simultaneously, for both teams.
WHAT? It’s one thing to own two teams, it’s another to serve as the managing President-CEO-Chariman-whatever. What does it say to a fan base to take the newly appointed CEO of the rebuilding Sixers and put him in charge of one of Philly’s biggest rivals? This is absurd. Sports franchises aren’t bargain bin assets, they’re businesses built, largely, on intangible relationships with their customers (fans). You can’t just gobble them up and put them beneath the same umbrella. It doesn’t work that way. Sure, Harris will get his money as sports teams’ values increase thanks to TV revenue, but I get the feeling that this isn’t the sort of situation where fans win. I mean… who wants the guy who runs the Sixers to run the Devils? Gross.
Meanwhile, last week, I threw some shit at the wall, positing that Harris could, in theory, move the Sixers, who rent from the Flyers, to North Jersey, where the Devils own their arena. Gonzo was told that won’t be the case:
Since the initial reports that Harris’ group was interested in purchasing the Devils, there was some concern that the Sixers — who currently play in the Comcast-Spectacor owned Wells Fargo Center — might move to Newark to play in the Prudential Center. Sources with knowledge of the situation indicate “that won’t happen,” and Harris is committed to keeping the team in Philadelphia.
There has also been some speculation in the media that purchasing the Devils might create friction between the Harris contingent and Flyers chairman Ed Snider and president Peter Luukko. According to people close to the Devils’ transaction, that isn’t the case. There are indications the Harris group might form a future partnership in some capacity with Comcast-Spectacor.
Man, you talk about incestuous relationships. I hate everything about this.