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Hawks/Thrashers ownership lawsuit settled

Atlanta ThrashersA contentious lawsuit among the owners of the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) has been settled, clearing the way for Atlanta Spirit to either bring in new investors or address the future of the Thrashers — a franchise considered to have “issues” by the NHL.

The settlement provides for six partners to buy out Steve Balkin‘s 30 percent share of the Spirit, with Michael Gearon and Bruce Levenson signing on as managing partners for the teams and Philips Arena.

At this point no new investors are slated to come on board, but don’t expect the status quo to continue. The Thrashers were a prime topic of conversation at this month’s league meetings, as Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly pointed raised the issue of whether hockey really has a future in Atlanta. The response from Don Waddell: yeah, we’re having issues, but we think the future of hockey is bright in Georgia.

Whether the ownership group does, though, is another matter. It’s no secret they’re huge basketball fans and hockey is an afterthought. Given there’s a decent market for NHL franchises right now, the better business play may be to sell the Thrashers and focus on hoops. We’re guessing True North would love to chat.

The Thrashers currently rank #28 in NHL attendance, drawing 12,294 fans per game. Local ratings are also low.

RELATED STORIES: Next up for the NHL: The Atlanta Thrashers

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