The Utah Jazz are being sold to local businessman Ryan Smith, CEO and co-founder of Qualtrics, for $1.66 billion, according to people familiar with the deal.
The Jazz have been owned by the Larry H. Miller group of companies since 1986. The late Miller purchased the team for $24 million.
It is the first NBA team transaction since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put many teams into a difficult financial position. The Minnesota Timberwolves are also currently on the market, while the San Antonio Spurs are looking to sell a significant minority stake.
Smith, who co-founded Qualtrics in 2002, has had business dealings with the Jazz in the past. The company is based in Provo, Utah, and has been a long-time sponsor of the team, which plays in nearby Salt Lake City. The firm is currently a partner on the team’s jersey patch—in 2017 it donated its sponsorship of the patch to 5 For the Fight, a global campaign that fights cancer. Since extended, that deal now runs through 2023.
Qualtrics was acquired last year by SAP for a reported $8 billion. Smith had also been considering a purchase of the local MLS club, Real Salt Lake, which is also on the market. On that, he was being advised by the Raine Group.
The Jazz are the No. 21 most valuable team in the league, according to Forbes magazine’s annual rankings, which valued the team at $1.55 billion.