That was a long time ago.
Walmart heir Rob Walton is supposed to be putting up more than $4.6 billion to buy the National Football League’s Denver Broncos business. Almost all of the paperwork has been done to allow the team’s transfer to Walton. The transaction is quite different from when the American Basketball Association’s Denver Nuggets franchise was invited to join the National Basketball Association on June 17th, 1976. The ABA-NBA merger, absorption or expansion deal nearly killed off the New York Nets and Indiana Pacers.
Nets owner Roy Boe’s financial problems threatened to sink not only his basketball franchise but his National Hockey League New York Islanders business. In addition to paying $3.2 million in fees to join the NBA. Boe had to give the NBA’s Knicks a 10-year annual $480,000 fee for “invading” the New York territory. The financially strapped Boe sold Julius Erving’s contract to the Philadelphia 76ers to make ends meet. Boe would move the Nets to New Jersey after the 1976-77 season and sold the Nets in 1978 to a group of New Jersey businessmen. Boe also lost control of the Islanders in 1978. The Indiana Pacers franchise also hit rough financial times following the merger. The franchise needed a $100,000 cash infusion to make it through the first NBA season and then held a telethon on the Fourth of July to sell season tickets for year two. Had the team not sold 8,000 season tickets by July 31st, 1977, the franchise was going to be sold to the highest bidder. The telethon worked as the team hit the 8,000 season tickets sold mark. The Pacers business stayed in Indianapolis but just barely. The money seemed large in 1976 and no one ever thought they would see franchises worth billions of dollars. Now it takes at least a billion to get any major league team.
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