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Report: 76ers ownership group interested in buying Devils

Aug 7, 2013, 9:59 PM EDT

Dallas Stars v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

The ownership group of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers — led by investment banker and majority partner Joshua Harris — is reportedly interested in buying the New Jersey Devils.

CSN Philly has confirmed the report, originally from Fox 29’s Howard Eskin, with “sources with knowledge of the situation.”

Tom Gulitti of also received confirmation from “two sources with knowledge of the Devils ownership process.”

The Devils have been searching for a new owner for quite some time, and have reportedly been in negotiations with Philadelphia-based attorney Andrew Barroway — but, according to Gulitti, Barroway’s sale agreement expired at the end of July without a deal being completed.

New Jersey’s current financial situation is cloudy at best. Owner Jeff Vanderbeek has spent much of the last two years feuding with Newark mayor Cory Booker, dealing with reports of unpaid loans and facing rumors of potentially defaulting on said loans.

In June, Forbes’ Mike Ozanian reported that Vanderbeek was $230 million in debt and suggested the Devils could be sold through a prepackaged bankruptcy sale, like the Dallas Stars were in 2011.

As for the Philly group? Here’s more, from CSN’s John Gonzalez:

According to Forbes, Harris is worth $2.1 billion. In 2011, he and the current Sixers ownership group bought the team for a reported $287 million. As of January 2013, Forbes valued the Sixers at $418 million.

Along with Harris, the new investment group is led primarily by David Blitzer. Blitzer, one of the Sixers’ owners, graduated magna cum laude from the Wharton School of Business. Blitzer is a senior managing director and head of tactical opportunities for Blackstone, the world’s biggest private equity firm by assets.

According to Bloomberg, Blackstone reported $3.3 billion in revenue last year. Blitzer, who joined the firm in 1991 and started its European private-equity business in 2002, reportedly manages a $1.5 billion fund on behalf of Blackstone.

It should be noted that, according to Gulitti’s sources, the Barroway group is still working on trying to buy the Devils and that, according to Gonzalez, the Harris group is considering a purchasing of “one of at least three different sports-related entities.”

  1. illbringdabeers - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    So either way, someone from Philly is going to own the Devils?

  2. wingslax35 - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Actually Harris is from New York and commutes to the games.

    • illbringdabeers - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      Actually he’s from Maryland

  3. valoisvipers - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    This is a novel way for Philly to get some defense.

    • kane987245 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      Bravo for that comment sir. Bravo! Lol.

  4. jimw81 - Aug 7, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    Harris is probably buying devils because ed snider said no.

  5. phillyphannn83 - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    This isn’t how you find a coach.

  6. jhmiddleton81 - Aug 8, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    This is truely great news, the Devils are an excellent franchise in my opinion, and are run extremely well. The only thing they have been missing is an owner with deep pockets, and this guy is worth $2 Billion, so he seemingly has them, he will get this team out of their hole that Vanderbeek dug them into and hopefully really help them and bring hope to the fan base, they have tremendous fans, and I hope he buys this team, beause it would be a tremendous buy, due to how fabulous that building is, and it’s ability to pack in tons of non-hockey events and make revenue of said events. Something the Coyotes couldn’t do. Also, I want more and more billionaire owners, so no more owners go bankrupt and screw these teams

  7. jessejames182 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Where’s CUPS at? I need someone to tell me this isn’t some crazy Philly scheme to try and fire Lou. But it makes sense that they definitely need some new ownership, not just cause Vanderbeek is in horrible debt (and wasn’t in Dawson’s creek, there I said it), but he seems to have completely ruined his relationship with the mayor of Newark.

  8. isithockeyseasonyet - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Off to ruin another organization i see

  9. ryanrockzzz - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Seattle Devils and the Seattle 76ers…nah they will need new names.

    • biasedhomer - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Sixers would never move, NBA wouldn’t allow it.

      • phillyphever - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        Eh, let them move. They’re basically the low point on the totem pole of sports here in Philly these days.

    • johnmiller1356 - Aug 10, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      The City of Seattle owns the rights to the “Seattle Supersonics” team name and uniform. That’s why when they moved they changed their name to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 76ers would simply become the new Supersonics and the 76ers name would then become available for any team that wanted to move to Philly.

  10. dannythebisforbeast - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Haha silly Devils fan. Haven’t you been paying attention, deep pockets does not equal spending money to win. They are in it for a buck, albeit it’s millions of bucks.
    See philadelphia 76ers, but then again Devils regular season attendance is historically weak

  11. kane987245 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Please buy them, restructure, and work on moving them out of debt. They aren’t moving, fans arent going to stop going to games, and more importantly Lou isnt going to get fired if this was going to go through. Actually think logically and realize the only thing that this would do for the Devils and most likely put them in stability 10 years down the line at the most.

    Fan attendance has been growing, they recently went to a Finals, and have a very successful pedigree on the ice. I do not care if the new guy is from Alaska. If he name is not Gomez, let him step in and work it out.

  12. tcclark - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Didn’t his mama ever tell him to finish one project before starting a new one. This is what it would look like if Larry Brown was rich enough to buy teams.

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