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Philips Arena Keeping Potential Local Owners Away From Atlanta Thrashers

The owners of the Atlanta Thrashers, Atlanta Spirit Group, have been looking to sell the team for years, but local buyers in Georgia have not been all that interested in purchasing the team. Sure, there's been some exploration there from a ton of different people -- former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine probably tops the list -- but nothing has ever really passed that first stage. 

Atlanta Spirit owns the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, and it turns out they're looking to sell their entire lot. It's a convenient set up now, of course, since the same group owns the arena and the hockey team, but as it turns out, the folks interested in the Hawks and the arena aren't so keen on the Thrashers. 

That complicates things. CBC's Elliotte Friedman, who's done some great reporting on this story, explains.

In fact, it appears that the Hawks and the Arena will be sold before the Thrashers.

However, the reason the hockey team remains available is that the new ownership (which apparently is local) has no interest in buying it.

That's an enormous problem, because who is going to want to buy the Thrashers without control of the building? Nobody. Renting Philips Arena 50-odd nights a year and banking on sponsorship revenue is not a recipe for success.

Even more heartbreaking for Thrashers fans: the final conclusion Friedman comes to in his article is a question of not if the Thrashers will move to Winnipeg, but when they'll move. Not good things for Atlanta, yet great things for Winnipeg.