The era of NBA legend Michael Jordan's majority ownership of the Charlotte Hornets has concluded, as a consortium headed by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall completes a reported $3 billion acquisition of the franchise.
Hornets Sports & Entertainment (HSE) officially declared yesterday that the sale of Jordan's controlling stake in the Hornets has been finalised. Following approval by the NBA Board of Governors last month, Plotkin and Schnall now assume the reins of the franchise.
Schnall, appointed as co-chairman and governor, formerly held a minority ownership with the Atlanta Hawks and served as an alternate governor on the NBA Board of Governors since 2015. His tenure with Atlanta encompassed various facets of the Hawks' development as well as State Farm Arena's renovations. Schnall also holds the position of co-president at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC, contributing 27 years to the firm.
Plotkin, designated as co-chairman and alternate governor, initially acquired a minority stake in the Hornets back in 2019. He has concurrently served as an alternate governor on the NBA Board of Governors since 2019. Plotkin's professional journey led him to establish Tallwoods Capital LLC, where he assumes the role of founder and chief investment officer.
Jordan's role as the majority owner of the Hornets dates back to 2010, when he procured a significant share from Bob Johnson for approximately $180 million, marking the transition from the Charlotte Bobcats era. Around 65% of the franchise's equity exchanged hands between Johnson and Jordan. While Jordan will continue to maintain a minority stake and operate as an alternate governor, the pivotal majority interest has shifted.
The scope of HSE ownership encompasses not only the Hornets but also the Greensboro Swarm (part of the NBA G League) and Hornets Venom GT (pertaining to the NBA 2K League), alongside Spectrum Center's management and operations. These components collectively contribute to the transaction.
In June 2022, the City of Charlotte approved a comprehensive $173 million renovation plan for Spectrum Center, complemented by an additional $42 million in enhancements. This commitment ensures the Hornets' continued residence at the arena until 2045.
Plotkin and Schnall will jointly assume the co-chairmanship of HSE, alternating the team's governorship every five years, with Schnall leading the initial term. The duo's joint statement underlines their intent: "Our vision is to take the Hornets to the next level, both on and off the court. We will look to build a highly competitive basketball team, develop innovative business practices, give back to our community and connect with our fans. We plan to further invest in the team, the facilities and the fan experience, with the goal of delivering a winner to our fans throughout the Carolinas. We are confident that our successful business backgrounds and our previous experience as NBA minority owners will be beneficial as we shape the future of the franchise as a best-in-class organisation."
Jordan himself expressed gratitude and reminiscence: "Thirteen years ago, I had the honour of becoming the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. The chance to own the NBA franchise in my home state and a city I love was truly a dream come true. As Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall, and their ownership group, now take a controlling stake in the team, and I transition to becoming a minority owner, I want to say Thank You to Hornets fans for all the love and dedication you’ve shown the franchise and to me over the years. We’ve had some unforgettable moments together, as well as a few challenging ones, but through it all, you’ve remained committed to us."