In an episode of “The Woj Pod” with ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski that published Wednesday, new Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith said he approached the Gail Miller family about the idea of joining together to purchase Real Salt Lake from Dell Loy Hansen before he bought the Jazz.
Smith had interest in buying the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, and in answering a question from Wojnarowski about that, Smith said that after Hansen announced in August that he would sell RSL, Smith asked the Millers, “Would you want to be in it with me?”
Smith said, “The reality is, they were like, ‘Well, no,’” to which Smith said he countered with the idea that he would buy “the soccer team,” and RSL and the Jazz could essentially become one entity under the same roof.
The Millers, Smith said, responded that if they were going to cede any control of Jazz ownership, they would give up the entire franchise.
At that point, Smith said, he asked, “Is that an option?” as the Millers had previously said they weren’t interested in selling the Jazz when he inquired. The Millers responded by asking if Smith was making an offer, at which point Smith said he pulled out his phone and looked up Forbes’ valuation of the Jazz and offered that amount, and it was accepted.
“That’s literally how it went down,” Smith said.
It has been reported that Smith purchased the team for $1.66 billion.
As for RSL, Smith is reportedly still the front-runner to buy that franchise. Hansen has until Friday to sell it before Major League Soccer assumes control of the sale, which is expected to happen.
Multiple outlets have reported that meetings between Smith and Hansen about RSL did not go well, but that Smith is in line to buy the team once MLS takes charge of the negotiations.
Utah Soccer Holdings, the entity that Hansen owns RSL and a number of other professional soccer properties under, including Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, is reportedly valued at between $400 and $500 million.