Looks like this Pera guy may not be too bad after all.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Friday that the Grizzlies’ prospective new owner Robert Pera (about whom we've written before) had met with AutoZone founder J.R. "Pitt" Hyde – who is one of the current local partners owning around a 2 percent share of the team. Other CA sources confirmed that Pera also met with FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith.
While not surprising, it is encouraging that Pera is reaching out to potential local owners. The larger of an investment Pera can get from a local ownership group, the more likely it is that the Grizzlies are going to stay in Memphis well after their current FedEx Forum lease expires in 2021.
Michael Heisley has always had local ownership in the team – but the locally-owned stake decreased from 30 percent to its current share when Heisley took outside investment in the team a few years ago. Heisley said back in March that he was hoping to find local ownership for the team; while Robert Pera isn’t from Memphis, he’s definitiely been doing all the right things to increase the likelihood that the team is going to stay in town long-term. Here’s hoping he’s successful in his bid to find a strong local minority ownership (or maybe even a 51%/49% split like the one Heisley originally said he wanted before the team moved to Memphis).
Pera, for his part, despite all of the questions surrounding him when the Grizzlies sale was first announced, seems to be passing all the checkpoints for a new owner – both with the league and with Memphians. Here’s hoping he can be a strong, resourceful owner who does everything it takes to bring (dare I say it?) an NBA title to Memphis.