Drama in the Desert & Dixie: The Balkan Revealed

Posted by Drew Mindell in Daily Papers,Drama in the Desert & Dixie on May 17, 2011 — 4 Comments

As first revealed by Craig Custance of The Sporting News, and confirmed by John Kincade of ESPN Radio in Atlanta, and Jay Clemons of SI.com, the shadowy figure known thus far only as “The Balkan”, has been revealed to be a Venture Capitalist named JB Smith.

A quick Google search about J.B. Smith indicates that he originally is from Philadelphia but now resides in Detroit, Michigan and is/was the Managing Partner of an independent private equity firm called “Equity 11?.

According to John Kincade, Mr. Smith has been negotiating with the Atlanta Spirit Group since early March in an attempt to negotiate a purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers, Atlanta Hawks, and Phillips Arena.

Here is the bio of JB Smith from the Equity 11 website

Update 1:

Chris Vivlamore, a frequent guest on The IllegalCurve Hockey Show, and one of the most “plugged-in” reporters on the plight of the Thrashers, tweeted the following after the “reveal” by Craig Custance:

Update 2:

Speaking on Hustler & Lawless on Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg (home of The Illegal Curve Hockey Show) Chris Vivlamore indicated that Mr. Smith may be lacking in some credibility, as in prior meetings with the Atlanta Spirit Group he has failed to disclose fairly standard financial documentation.

Continuing on, Vivlamore reports that there is a group in Atlanta who has an exclusivity agreement to purchase the Atlanta Hawks and the Phillips Arena BUT NOT the Atlanta Thrashers.

Update 3:

Continuing on with the interview conducted with Chris Vivlamore, he indicated that the Atlanta Spirit Group was eager to talk with Mr. Smith but were scared off by his reluctance/refusal/inability to produce appropriate financial documents and that his money is not easily accessible/liquid as it is “in China.”

Update 4:

From Craig Custance of The Sporting News, this most interesting comment about the viability of J.B. Smith as a potential owner of The Atlanta Thrashers:

An NHL source (emphasis added by Drew) told Sporting News that the belief is Smith doesn’t have the necessary financial backing to make such a significant purchase, and questioned the validity of Smith’s group. In 2009, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Smith announced that he would be a major investor in the NFL’ Pittsburgh Steelers but sources later told the paper that there were never negotiations between Smith and the Rooney family.

Read the full article by Craig Custance here.

Update 5:

Equity 11 put out a press release today stating that they no longer have any association with JB Smith.

“The shareholders of Equity 11 and iSekurity removed JB Smith from all positions he held with our companies in June 2010,” said Jim Juliano, Equity 11’s and iSekurity’s Chairman. “In addition, the Oakland County Circuit Court entered a $1.9 million judgment against JB Smith, banned him from all positions with Equity 11 and iSekurity and ordered him to relinquish any ownership in these companies.

Stay tuned to IC for any further breaking developments in this ongoing saga.

  • http://twitter.com/RetroWinnipeg Jason Sheps

    “…the belief is Smith doesn’t have the necessary financial backing to make such a significant purchase…”
    That didn’t stop Ice Edge before…

  • http://twitter.com/TheJetsAreBack Pokey Reddick

    JB Smith, unlike JB Smoove, appears wholly unable to BRING THE RUCKUS. He might be a decently successful PE guy, but that just means he has a sharp knife, which unfortunately won’t do him much good at a gunfight with David Thomson.   This whole Balkan story was a manufactured circus propogated by the ATL media desperate to find hope where there is none.  Leon Black got bar mitzvid three times; Atlanta will lose its NHL team twice. 

  • http://twitter.com/jenmassley Jen Massley

    Hasn’t the NHL had enough owners with checkered pasts?

  • http://twitter.com/ManitobaJets1 Manitoba Jets

    Entire situation too fishy.  Why would owner have need to hide identity in first place?