SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The ownership of the Utah Jazz and Vivint SmartHome Arena has been transferred from Gail Miller to a legacy trust in a move that ensures the team will remain in the family for generations.
Miller and her late husband Larry purchased 50 percent of the franchise in 1985 amid concerns the team would move. They bought the remaining 50 percent a year later. Miller said Monday that the primary reason for the transfer is to make sure the team stays in the state.
The Jazz moved from New Orleans to Salt Lake City in 1979.
“It’s part of being an organized way to keep the Jazz in Utah with the resources it needs in a trust,” Miller said, “to give our family an opportunity, as they grow up, to have stewardship over it and to be the ones to take care of it in the future.”
“Now I don’t have to worry about it. It’s part of a big package of estate planning. But it’s one part that’s all done and it will last forever as long as we have people who are willing and able to take care of it,” she said.
Miller remains the trustee until her passing. The trust’s board of managers consists of six Miller family members, including children Greg, Steve, Bryan and Karen and grandson Zane.
Jazz officials believe this to be the first legacy trust for a professional franchise in any of the four major U.S. leagues.
Dennis Haslam, a former team president and a member of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies board of directors, said they worked with the NBA for 12 months to finalize the transfer. There are some tax advantages in the move.
“This has the potential of lasting for hundreds of years, maybe longer,” Haslam said. “We don’t know where the NBA will be in 100 years, but it has the potential to survive that long.”
Team moves have been in the headlines this month with the Chargers announcing plans to join the recently relocated Rams in Los Angeles and the Oakland Raiders filing for relocation to Las Vegas.