(MEMPHIS) The future of the Memphis Grizzlies is up in the year leaving many fans worried about the uncertainty.
The team’s majority owner Michael Heisley is in an agreement to see the team to a California-based billionaire.
The 34-year-old potential owner says he is committed to Memphis, but fans and business owners are wondering how deep that commitment is.
According to Forbes Magazine Pera made his fortune with Apple as an engineer then he started his own Ubiquiti Networks that sell wireless internet products. Pera made over a billion dollars when that company went public last year. He’s conquered the technology world and now his sights are set on basketball, and many business owners hope that vision keeps the team here in Memphis.
Ty Agee owns Miss Polly’s on Beale Street. He says it’s pretty hard to make a buck during winter because Beale Street is pretty dead unless the Grizzlies are playing.
“Whether it’s the Celtics or Sacramento or whoever comes to town you can see a big surge in business on those days, and on a cold January night it’s really nice to have the Grizzlies play,” said Agee.
Like every other fan Agee was cautious over news a 34 year old self-made billionaire plans on buying the team. Monday Michael Heisley agreed to sell his majority stake of the team to Robert Pera. When Heisley bought the Grizzlies in 2000 he moved the team from Vancouver to Memphis. Some fear Pera may also have ideas of relocating.
“It would be devastating. It would be devastating not just for Beale Street, but for all of Memphis. It would be a hard lick because this is something the city has gotten behind,” said Agee.
In a statement Pera said he “looks forward to getting to know Memphis and continuing the Grizzlies success here” leaving many people to believe he is committed to keeping the team here. The Grizzlies are in a lease with FedEx Forum goes through 2021 season.
Natalia Hewlett works the door at B.B. Kings and loves the crowd the Grizzlies bring out to Beale Street. He says he hopes the lease ties the Grizzlies to Memphis for the long haul.
“Ever since I was a child I wanted to see the NBA, and the NBA is finally here so we definitely want to see the NBA stay,” said Hewlett.
Pera is expected to pay around $370 Million for the team, and that deal must now be approved by the NBA board of governors.