Black Entertainment Television chairman and CEO Robert Johnson is now a
professional-sports-franchise owner, having won a bid for the expansion
Charlotte, N.C.-based National Basketball Association franchise.
Johnson will retain majority ownership in the franchise, becoming the first
African-American team owner in major professional-sports history.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but published reports put the
franchise's price tag at $300 million.
Johnson said he would finance the service through "Viacom [Inc.] stock"
acquired through his sale of BET to Viacom in 2000 for $3 billion, as well as
other financial assets.
The Charlotte franchise became available after the former Charlotte Hornets
moved to New Orleans earlier this year. At the time, Johnson was part of a group
of local Charlotte businessmen who tried to keep the Hornets in the city.
Despite winning the Charlotte franchise, Johnson said he is still interested
in bringing a Major League Baseball team to the Washington, D.C., area. "I've
already told the NBA that I would still pursue a baseball franchise," Johnson
said. "I'm definitely in the hunt."
He also wouldn't rule out the possibility of creating a regional sports
network for the team. "I'm going to look at every business opportunity
possible," he added. "If I can find a spinoff business opportunity to grow an
asset, that's what I'm going to do."
Johnson beat out a group headed up by NBA Hall of Famer Larry