The Atlanta Hawks is continuing its legacy as one of the boldest, and most audacious, pro-Black professional basketball franchises in all of American sports with its latest achievement.
According to USA Today, the NBA team announced this past Thursday that it has agreed to refinance the construction loan for the Emory Sports Medicine Complex with a network of Black-owned banks.
“We’re getting a very attractive loan with very attractive terms that we’re proud to have,” said principal owner of the Hawks, Tony Ressler, at a press conference, “and that’s the message that hopefully we can all make quite clear.”
Historically speaking, the groundbreaking $35 million loan marks the first time a professional sports franchise has underwritten a significant loan exclusively using Black-owned banks’ credit.
“The Hawks are not only the first-in-league with this deal, but are the first in all major league sports,” said ESPN commentator and NFL alumni, Ryan Clark, in a statement. “Banking black is a simple but incredibly powerful demonstration of professional sports franchise’s commitment to their players and their fans. Now we need other teams to follow the Hawks’ lead.”
The team’s transaction was facilitated with the support of the newly-launched National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF) — which provided a syndication team to structure the deal — as well as Georgia-based institution Carver State Bank, which served as the syndicate’s Lead Arranger, Respect Magazine reports.
The larger picture of this new deal shows that by partnering with the Black bank syndicate, the Atlanta Hawks are proving that Black banks can compete in the commercial loan sector and use the Club’s strong credit rating to boost the capital cushion for Black-owned banks.
“Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to putting our values into action–by choosing to work with Black banks and drawing attention to the need for Black banks to thrive as they work toward addressing the lack of access to capital in Black communities,” Ressler said in the statement. “We always strive to ask ourselves how the Hawks can best help those in the community that are already helping others, and today’s announcement is another step in our commitment to use the Hawks as a positive agent of change. This is both good for the community and good business to empower new and existing Black businesses.”
Respect Magazine shares that Robert E. James, II — president of Carver Development and chairman-elect of the National Bankers Association — claims that the Atlanta Hawks are “putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to being an ally of Black businesses” and strengthening its relationships with Black-owned banks in its community.
“What we earn from this loan strengthens our collective ability to provide even more loans and financial services to Black small businesses and consumers,” James II said in a statement. “We are able to show our ability to pull off a large, sophisticated loan transaction. Tony and his team are real allies in the movement for racial equity.”
The Atlanta Hawks are both making history and setting an example for what other organizations with major platforms need to do to help Black-owned businesses.
According to Respect Magazine, NBBF general counsel Ashley Bell applauded the franchise’s achievement stating: “Because of the Hawks’ leadership and commitment to financial inclusion, Black banks are finally playing in the major league.”