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Breakers owners to step aside as new majority owner sought

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The owners of the SKYCITY Breakers Paul and Liz Blackwell will relinquish their controlling stake in one of New Zealand’s most successful and high-profile sporting brands, in order to bring new investors into the club as the National Basketball League heads into an exciting new growth phase.

The club is currently enjoying the high of a record start to any season, sitting on top of the Hungry Jack’s NBL ladder, with an 8-win, 1-loss record - those 8 successive victories including Sunday night’s win over nearest rivals Perth Wildcats in Perth.

Paul and Liz Blackwell, who’ve owned the club since 2005, have decided the time is right for new investors to lead the club into what promises to be an exciting stage of both the club’s and the NBL’s development, with new commercial opportunities beckoning as the league goes from strength to strength.

Paul Blackwell spoke with typical honesty about the decision that this season will be their last at the helm, one based on what is best for the club as the Hungry Jack’s NBL continues to evolve and grow, as evidenced by the recent games played between Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney against NBA clubs in America, and a strong increase in attendance and television audiences through the opening weeks of the season.

"We have thought about this long and hard and spoken with those close to us and the club, and we believe the timing is perfect for us to make this decision and more importantly, for a new majority owner to lead the club into what promises to be an exciting new phase as the NBL continues to grow and develop," said Blackwell.

"This means selling our controlling stake in the club to the right investors who can bring capital and renewed vigor to ensure the Breakers’ ongoing success.

"Everyone that knows our story knows that our goals always have been very much community focused. Yes, we have pursued on court success and we have achieved more than we ever dreamed of, with four championships and five grand final appearances over the past seven years.

"But for us the main goal was to build a club that gives back to its community, one that young New Zealanders can look up to, a club that sets an example and provides a pathway for players, coaches and administrators to grow and develop.

"The time is right for new investors to help lead and move the club forward with a renewed commercial focus. The NBL is going ahead in leaps and bounds, the club must move with it and we have made the decision now to ensure the ongoing success and growth of the club."

NBL Owner Executive Director Larry Kestelman acknowledged the role the Blackwell’s and the SKYCITY Breakers have played in both the NBL and the New Zealand sporting landscape.

"Paul and Liz have done an incredible job building the Breakers and the club is an integral part of the NBL and our future plans to continue build success on both sides of the Tasman," he said.

"We are a global sport with an international presence as the games in the NBA showed and we want to grow the game in New Zealand and also build our presence in the Asia Pacific region."

The Blackwell’s have decided that now is the right time, and while there may be some disruption, it will be business as usual around the club.

"It is imperative that any new investors are given the chance to be in control of the club at the end of this season, not at the start of next season. We have spoken to all staff, players, coaches and stakeholders with the club as well as the NBL. While there may be some due diligence behind the scenes, nothing changes in our day to day operations or our quest for another Championship."

Blackwell thanked the fans, affectionately known as Breaker Nation, for their role in establishing such a successful franchise.

"Our fans are amazing, the support we have seen grow from those early days when we were lucky to see 300 turn out on game nights has been phenomenal. Whether it is the thousands who turn out at Spark Arena and North Shore Events Centre or the fans up and down the country who watch us on television and support us from all around New Zealand, we want to thank you.

"It is however more imperative than ever that our supporter base does not take the club or their success for granted, we would love to see full houses throughout the season and for the membership base to grow year upon year."

All prospective investors are invited to seek more information via SKYCITY Breakers General Manager Dillon Boucher, with the club engaging broker Michael Pleciak, at Legacy Partners. All enquiries will of course be treated as confidential.

SKYCITY Breakers timeline

2003 - club formed, winning first game at North Shore against Adelaide 36ers

2005 - Paul and Liz Blackwell step up to take ownership of the club with clear goals around community work, and on court success

2005 - Andrej Lemanis is appointed Head Coach

2006 - Bartercard on board as a major sponsor with the club

2008 - the club qualifies for the NBL post season for the first time, defeating Cairns before losing to Brisbane

2009 - the club again makes the playoffs, this time losing to Melbourne in the semifinals

2010 - Meadow Fresh partners with the club’s Champions Community Programme

2011 - the first NBL Championship with a win over Cairns in the Grand Final

2011 - SKYCITY comes on board as naming rights partner

2012 - Breakers include Spark Arena as a home venue, with a club record 9,285 attending game three of the Grand Final series win over Perth

2012 - a second NBL Championship, defeating Perth in the Grand Final

2013 - an incredible threepeat is achieved with victory over the Perth Wildcats

2015 - a fourth Championship is won under the coaching of Dean Vickerman

2016 - foundation player Paul Henare is named Head Coach

2017 - Meadow Fresh extends partnership across all community activity and on to the playing singlet

2017 - foundation sponsor Burger King rekindles partnership with the club with a 3-year deal

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