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Tuesday, August 01, 2021

in spirit
The 30-team National Basketball Association divvies up its television revenue 31 ways each month — 30 checks to each franchise, and one to Ozzie and Dan Silna.

Who are the lucky guys? The former owners of the long-defunct Spirits of St. Louis from the long-defunct American Basketball Association. And their cut is the result of what’s turned out to be a sweetheart deal that facilitated the merger of the ABA and NBA thirty years ago.

In 1976 the ABA reached a merger deal with the NBA. The NBA agreed to take four of the six teams from the dismantling ABA. The Spirits and the Kentucky Colonels were not invited to join the league. However, the ABA owners needed to reach unanimous approval for the merger to take place.

John Y. Brown, owner of the Kentucky Colonels, quickly accepted a $3.3-million buyout as compensation. That deal was also offered to the Silnas.

But Ozzie Silna kept haggling for more, and he finally reached a deal in a swank Massachusetts hotel room. The Silnas would get $3 million, plus a share of the TV revenue from the four teams entering the NBA.

“When we accepted the arrangement, the big thing was that the NBA had television” and the ABA didn’t, said Silna. “But still, the TV revenue was minuscule compared with baseball and the NFL.”

Initially, the contract netted the Silnas about $300,000 a year as the NBA struggled with spotty attendance and weak TV ratings until the ’80s, when Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan catapulted the league to a higher profile.

As the NBA’s popularity rose, so did the league’s TV contract and the Silnas’ cut. For the NBA’s last contract, they averaged $15 million a year.

“The process never even entered our minds of how high it would get,” Ozzie Silna said. “We just wanted a piece of the action.”

They are due an even larger jackpot from the NBA’s current contract, which began in 2002. That six-year, $4.6-billion deal with ABC/ESPN and TNT could earn them upward of $24 million annually, according to Silna.

Without having to dole out salaries or money on stadium leases, the Silnas earn more each season than most NBA teams.

As close to hitting the jackpot as you can get in the business side of pro sports.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/01/2021 11:50:16 PM
Category: Basketball, SportsBiz | Permalink |

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  1. […] CT posts about one of the sweetest business deals in sports you probably never heard of. Article printed from Amber of the Moment: http://amberofthemoment.com URL to article: http://amberofthemoment.com/?p=43 Tags […]

    Pingback by Amber of the Moment » Smart Deal — 08/02/2021 @ 07:07:23 AM

  2. Ozzie And Dan Silna, The Spirits of St. Louis, And Perhaps The Best Business Deal In The History Of Mankind

    Ozzie And Dan Silna, The Spirits of St. Louis, And Perhaps The Best Business Deal In The History Of Mankind From the LA Times: Roughly once a month, the NBA cuts 31 checks to NBA teams as revenue from its

    Trackback by Tom McMahon — 08/08/2021 @ 01:31:30 AM

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