The Miller family is selling the Utah Jazz to Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith.
Jazz owner Gail Miller made the announcement during a press conference at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Ryan and Ashley Smith affirmed a commitment to Utah during the event.
From the press conference
- “I’ve said before that my life has certainly been an unexpected journey, and if 2020’s been anything, it qualifies as another of those unexpected journeys,” Miller said.
- The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year. It is subject to approval from the NBA Board of Governors. Smith will also purchase The Zone Sports Network in a separate transaction.
- Larry H. Miller Dealerships, Larry H. Miller Real Estate, Prestige Financial Services, and Megaplex Theatres will remain part of the LHM Group.
- “Today is a day I have never been able to imagine,” Miller said during the press conference, but she added she has full confidence in the Smiths.
- “Selling the Utah Jazz was a huge decision,” Miller said.
- Miller noted she and her late husband, Larry, purchased the Jazz 35 years ago. “That was the beginning of unimaginable proportions for us and our family as far as adventures. We were young and full of excitement at the prospects of being stewards of a unique asset and sharing it with Utah and beyond. We’ve treasured that stewardship and especially the unifying influence it’s had on our city, our state and even the country and the world,” she said.
- Miller addressed in the announcement the legacy trust the Jazz franchise was put into in 2017, which was designed to ensure the team would stay in Utah. “I am fully convinced that with this sale, the objectives of that trust will still be honored and want you to know that the new owners have made the same commitment to keep the team in Utah,” Miller said.
- “I believe Ryan and Ashley embody the things that we as a family hold dear, and as I said before, they are absolutely committed to keeping the Jazz in Utah. I have every confidence that they will move the team to the next level while honoring our history, our common goals and our work,” Miller said.
- “Selling the Utah Jazz was a huge decision, but doing so becomes a catalyst for our family and businesses to continue to evolve and enrich lives, while also allowing Ashley and Ryan to begin their journey. Our family looks forward to the adventures Ryan and Ashley will create on this journey, and we wish them the very best,” Miller said.
- Miller also thanked her husband, Kim, as well as her late husband, Larry, “for making this absolutely remarkable journey possible. We love all of you and we care about all of you and we appreciate your support all these years.”
- Smith said, “We couldn’t more humbled. We couldn’t be more honored with your trust. Your 35-year stewardship and legacy is one that I believe, as Utahns, we’re all in debt to you and the Miller family. Our commitment is that we’re going to build on that legacy, and we’re going to continue, including Larry’s legacy. ... We couldn’t be more grateful for you. We know that all you do is good, and that’s what the Miller family does.”
- Ryan Smith said he’s approached the Millers on a few occasions about purchasing the team. “There’s no secret about my interest in the NBA, and there’s really no secret about my interest in the Jazz. I grew up watching the Jazz. This is the team I’ve cheered for. I played Junior Jazz. I dreamed of playing for the Jazz, but that didn’t work out.”
- “The Jazz are a gift to this whole community, and that’s how we view it,” he said. “That’s 100% how we view this, and we look to use this platform to continue to do good.”
- “I think we have the best fans in the world,” he said.
- “We are really excited,” Ashley Smith said. “We love basketball. We love the Jazz, and we really love Utah, so this is an awesome event for us. We are blown away and honored that we get to share this experience with Utah and Jazz Nation.”
- “For us, the Jazz has been about love for our little family. It’s about love. It’s about spending time together. It’s about sharing experiences, sharing victories or losses or lessons learned and hard work and all the ups and downs that come with any great adventure, and I think this really is going to be an incredible adventure, and an adventure that we get to share with all of you, and that’s exciting.”
- “We’re committed to (the Millers’) vision. We’re committed to Utah, and we’re committed to the Jazz, so let’s go,” she said.
“ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Wednesday morning that the Millers will sell the Jazz after 35 years of ownership.
Simultaneously, the Jazz announced that Miller would “make a virtual, special announcement today from Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah” at 10 a.m, but later confirmed the news in a press release.
The announcement said Vivint Arena, the NBA G League’s Salt Lake City Stars and “management” of the Salt Lake Bees are also included in the sale.
Both Smith and the Miller family have been linked in recent months to the sale of Utah Soccer Holdings, which includes Real Salt Lake, Utah Royals FC and Rio Tinto Stadium, among other properties, but it’s unknown if the two are related.
“I have known Ryan for several years and admire the values by which he and his wife, Ashley, live their lives,” Gail Miller said in a statement. “They have such love for and a connection to Utah and this team. Because of our friendship and several high-level conversations over the years, Ryan recently approached our organization to inquire about the possibility of purchasing the Utah Jazz and some of our other sports and entertainment properties.
“After much soul searching, lengthy discussions and extensive evaluations of our long-term goals, my family and I decided this was the right time to pass our responsibility and cherished stewardship of 35 years to Ryan and Ashley, who share our values and are committed to keeping the team in Utah. We have every confidence they will continue the work we have undertaken and move the team to the next level. Our family remains invested in the success of the Utah Jazz and these businesses, and we will retain a minority interest.”
Said Smith in a statement, “The Miller family has had an unbelievable impact on countless people through the Utah Jazz and the other organizations they run. 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. 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. The Utah Jazz, the state of Utah and its capital city are the beneficiaries of the Millers’ tremendous love, generosity and investment. We look forward to building upon their lifelong work.”