A Wizards Battle

An ownership battle over the NBA’s Washington Wizards and Verizon Center may be brewing in the wake of Abe Pollin’s death Nov. 24.

Washington Sports & Entertainment, the holding company built by Pollin, says it has the right to put the assets on the market – throwing a wrench into the attempt by ex-AOL mogul Ted Leonsis to take full ownership of the sports empire.

Reps for Leonsis and WS&E had been in talks since early in the year, but have yet to reach an agreement over the assets, according to the Washington Post. The two sides are reportedly in the neighborhood of $100 million apart in their valuations of the package that includes the NBA’s Wizards, Verizon Center and the D.C. Ticketmaster franchise.

A memo to employees from Peter Biché, the company’s president of business operations, asserted WS&E’s right to sell but acknowledged that Leonsis, who owns 44 percent of the Wizards and Verizon Center, has the right to match any offer submitted to the Pollin estate.

But he also claimed that no one has an exclusive right to negotiate a purchase of those assets, according to the Post. Leonsis says that his Lincoln Holdings investor group has an exclusive period, that he says is still in effect, to reach a deal, sources told the paper.

When Leonsis bought the NHL’s Capitols, he and Pollin reportedly worked out a deal that would ease the way for Leonsis to acquire the Wizards and their arena upon Pollin’s death.