LOS ANGELES – The NBA’s Board of Governors formally approved the sale of the Utah Jazz to software developer Ryan Smith on Friday, welcoming the tech billionaire as a “fantastic addition” to the league.
Smith the co-founder and chief executive of Utah software company Qualtrics, takes control of the team from the Miller family, who had owned the club for 35 years before the sale first reported in October.
“Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
“As a life-long fan of the Utah Jazz and more recently as one of their key marketing partners, Ryan has demonstrated his deep commitment to the Jazz and the Utah community and there’s no doubt he will bring that same level of dedication to the operation of the team.”
The deal is worth a reported $1.66 billion (1.36 billion euros). Forbes magazine ranked the Jazz at 21st in value among the NBA’s 30 clubs earlier this year at $1.55 billion.
The sale brings Smith a majority interest in the team, the Jazz’s home, Vivint Arena, plus developmental basketball and baseball clubs in Salt Lake City.
Smith, a lifelong Utah resident, has been a corporate partner of the Jazz for many years, including a philanthropic patch that has raised $25 million in recent years.
The Miller family will retain a minority interest in the Jazz, who went 44-28 last season and lost to Denver in the first round of the playoffs.
“We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for the amazing stewardship they have had over this asset for the past 35 years,” Smith said earlier this year.
“My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future, especially with the greatest fans in the NBA… We look forward to building upon their lifelong work.”