San Antonio Spurs president B.J. "Red" McCombs bought the team outright Friday for $47 million.
McCombs, whose family earlier owned a 35 percent interest, said he plans no immediate personnel changes and soothed city officials' worries by saying the team will stay put if fans support it."This is a very, very big step for my family," McCombs said. "To a boy from Spur, Texas, who was raised during the Depression era, it is a very serious investment. I feel it is a very good investment and our goal is to make the Spurs the absolute very best."
McCombs, who also has interests in oil, ranching and an automobile business, was among several investors who bought interests in the team when it was known as the Dallas Chaparrals and played in the American Basketball Association.
Seeking controlling interest after disagreements with Spurs Chairman Angelo Drossos over the club's direction, McCombs went to Drossos April 3 and offered $40 million for 80 percent control.
Drossos, who owned 37 percent of the team, said he would consider the proposal but later negotiated with Boston businessman Bertram Lee and Houston businessman David Wolff for purchase of the team for $50 million.
Those talks broke down within the past two weeks, and Drossos said Friday that although the investors wanted another chance to make a deal, he declined their offers.
Earlier this week, Drossos also considered buying the team himself for $44 million before McCombs raised his purchase price to $47 million.
"I am looking forward to the new leadership in the franchise with the leadership that is very capable," said Drossos, who stands to gain $17.3 million by selling his interest to McCombs. "It's going to be more fun being a fan."
McCombs said he and Drossos have remaned friends, and that Drossos will be sought for advice on running the club.
Among the challenges facing McCombs is attendance, which was the league's lowest last year. Gate revenue was $78,000 per game, compared to a league average of $170,000.
He said he wants to keep the team in San Antonio, but that the fans must also do their part.
"We will be doing everything that we know how to do to see those fans fill the rafters," McCombs said. "We understand that we have to put a product out that people will want to come and see and that is our responsibility.
McCombs had said his offer was the only viable proposal and that he signified stability in keeping the team in San Antonio. After he helped attract the franchise to San Antonio in 1973, McCombs sold his interest in the team to Drossos.
McCombs then purchased the Denver Nuggets before selling his interest and repurchasing his interest in the Spurs from Drossos.