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Celtics Owner Outlines Sale Plans and Bidding Process, Eyes Record Price

  • The team owner has eyes on setting a new sports industry record for a team sale.
  • The rarity of a newly crowned champion hitting the market is expected to help drive bidder interest.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck (above) has now started an elongated path to part ways with the NBA team, but he still has ambitions to set more records in his final chapter with the franchise. 

Speaking on CNBC, Grousbeck said he intends to set a new sports industry record with the recently started sale process for the NBA champion Celtics. Such a mark, at least within basketball, likely, as the current league mark for a full-team deal is Mat Ishbia’s $4 billion purchase of the Suns, and the Celtics were previously estimated at $4.7 billion—even before the team’s latest title and the arrival of the NBA’s new national TV rights agreements. 

The higher target would be the $6.05 billion that the NFL’s Commanders garnered last year in the Josh Harris–led deal.

“I haven’t thought much about [it] going forward, but I am a competitive guy—why not?” Grousbeck said of surpassing the Commanders’ number. “I mean, if you’re going to keep score, keep score on everything.”

A key component of Grousbeck’s confidence is the rarity of a franchise such as the Celtics hitting the market at such a competitive high point, instead of a more typical timing during a rebuilding effort.

“I would think there’d be interest, because people would be able to start being involved in something that is at the top of the world, not the bottom,” he said.

Sales Factors

Among the key points also detailed by Grousbeck in his first comments since announcing the team would be going on the market: 

  • He envisions a two-stage sale of the team. The first chunk, the 51% controlled by the Grousbeck family, will be sold “fairly soon,” while the remaining 49% held by other partners is targeted for a separate, later transaction. Grousbeck intends to remain the Celtics’ governor until 2028. 
  • Estate planning indeed is at the root of the decision to sell. Grousbeck’s ownership of the Celtics is in combination with his family, including his father, Irving. “It’s a family I belong to, and then I have the Celtics family I also belong to, so there’s an intersection and involvement,” he said. “So there’s been discussions and thoughts about estate planning and family planning.”
  • He welcomes interest from Steve Pagliuca in buying a majority share. Pagliuca, a prominent team minority owner, quickly said following the sale announcement that he is interested in mounting a bid for control of the team.

“Steve has been a terrific lead partner and lead co-owner, I would say, in many ways,” Grousbeck said. “Steve has been great, and is a great person, and we welcome [him], obviously, for sure, in the bidding process.”

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