Robert Pera is having troubles — not the least of which is his prospective bid to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies.
However, it has been made clear to 3 Shades of Blue (edit: from a source with inside knowledge) that – despite the attack on his company’s stock price – Robert Pera does have outside assets, both personally and externally, sufficient to close the deal for the team.
Some of those external assets could be coming from the Memphis area. The Commercial Appeal reported today that Pera has extended his hand to local businessmen to purchase up to 1/3rd of the team. That would be a greater ownership percentage than the locals ever had with Michael Heisley although still below the amount originally discussed when Heisley was negotiating to move the team from Vancouver.
That is not to say that the Pera has made a deal with the local ownership group however. They are only negotiating and it appears one of the major points — outside of the price tag which is very large — is the need for a commitment from Pera to Memphis.
Sources have told 3 Shades of Blue that the local group will welcome Mr. Pera with open arms and embrace his ownership bid conditional on his extending the lease and making a written commitment to Memphis.
If Pera balks at such commitments, then things could get uncomfortable.
It wasn’t made clear what uncomfortable actually means but — as Mr. Heisley discovered — to be successful in Memphis you need to appease the network of business owners and businessmen in the city. As the old saying goes “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” How Pera sweetens his offer to purchase the team will go a long way in seeing how many fans he catches.
Memphians love the fact that Memphis has a major league team, but are leery at the lack of local ownership. It wasn’t that long ago that Memphis was used by the NFL as a stop gap city while Nashville was building a stadium for the Titans. Going further back many Memphians remember the teams that have come and gone and the repeated rejections from the NFL in their attempt to bring a franchise home.
That leeriness has created a perception around the country that Memphis isn’t large enough to support a team. That could still be the case. No one knows just how much more the city could support the franchise but not having local ownership has given locals the easy excuse not to attend games. Extending the lease and increasing the local ownership group’s stake would go a long way to alleviating those concerns.