Robert Sarver

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Robert Sarver
Sarvermw.jpg
Sarver, 2011
Born (1961-10-31) October 31, 1961 (age 60)
EducationUniversity of Arizona
OccupationReal estate developer, owner
Known forPhoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, RCD Mallorca
Co–owner, Southwest Value Partners
Spouse(s)Penny Sanders

Robert Sarver (born October 31, 1961) is an American businessman, co-founder of Southwest Value Partners, a real estate development company, and the owner of the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, and RCD Mallorca.

Early life and education[edit]

Sarver was born in Tucson to Irene and Jack Sarver. Sarver is Jewish.[1] His father was a prominent Tucson businessman, banker and hotel developer (the elder Sarver built the Aztec Inn, the Plaza International Hotel (now an Aloft Hotel) at Speedway and Campbell in Tucson in the early 1970s,[2] built and operated the Tucson area Howard Johnson's locations, and headed a local savings and loan). Jack Sarver died of a heart attack in 1979; Robert Sarver would eventually donate funds to his alma mater, the University of Arizona's heart research center, which in 1998 was renamed the Sarver Heart Center in honor of his father.[3] At age 16, he went to work for his father's company, American Savings and Loan.[4] Sarver is a 1979 graduate of Sabino High School in Tucson, and a 1982 graduate of University of Arizona with a bachelor's degree in business administration.[4] In 1983, Sarver became a certified public accountant.[4]

Career[edit]

Banking[edit]

In 1984, Sarver founded the National Bank of Tucson (which he expanded statewide and changed the name to the National Bank of Arizona).[4] In 1994, he sold the National Bank of Arizona, then the largest independent bank in the state, to Zions Bancorporation.[4] In 1995, he acquired Grossmont Bank, one of San Diego's largest community banks. Grossmont was also sold to Zions Bancorporation in 1997.[5] In 1998, Sarver led Zions Bancorporation's acquisition of Sumitomo Bank of California.[4] In 2003, he became chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation.[4][6]

Real estate development[edit]

In 1990, Sarver co-founded the real estate company Southwest Value Partners with Millard Seldin.[4] In 1995, Southwest Value Partners purchased the Emerald Plaza in San Diego.[4] In 2004, his jointly owned real estate firm, Southwest Value Partners, sold the Emerald Plaza and two other San Diego office buildings to Santa Ana real estate firm, Triple Net Properties, for $274.5 million.[7]

Phoenix Suns[edit]

A lifelong sports fan, Sarver's quest to purchase an NBA team began with a conversation with University of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson. Olson referred Sarver to Steve Kerr, a former player at Arizona and a 15-year NBA veteran, to assist him in buying an NBA franchise. In 2004, he purchased the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.[4]

Since purchasing the team, Sarver has overseen massive organizational developments. In 2020, Sarver and the Suns collaborated with Verizon on a state of the art, 53,000-square foot practice arena called the Verizon 5G Performance Center.[8] The $45 million facility uses 5G technology to merge computer-aided motion analysis, player and ball tracking, and shot tracking to provide precise information to players and coaches.[9] This revolutionary technology is being used by both the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA to push the limits of sports science. In 2021, Sarver and the Suns oversaw a $230 million renovation and expansion of Footprint Center, formerly known as Talking Stick Arena.[10] The renovations include ultra-modern amenities, premium seating options, themed bars, new suites, and additional social spaces. On top of the physical changes to the arena, there has been an overhaul to the game presentation including enhancements to sound lighting and video systems.[11] The modernization also included significant changes to the arena's infrastructure, creating one of the greenest stadiums is American sports.[12]

For the first time since 1993, the Suns reached the NBA Finals. Despite strong play from their young core, the Suns eventually lost to the Bucks 4–2. Though overlooked as potential championship contenders at the start of the season, the Suns, built by Sarver, general manager James Jones, and coach Monty Williams, have quickly developed into one of the strongest organizations in the NBA.[13]

Controversies[edit]

Sarver has been criticized by current and former employees, agents, and rival executives "of being of an interventionist owner with more authority than expertise, a front office marred by instability, an undermanned scouting department, and a dated facility that isolates the decision-makers from the players and coaches".[14]

On November 4, 2021, Sarver and the Suns were the subject of a report written by Baxter Holmes on ESPN, which accused Sarver and members of the front-office of racism, misogyny, and sexual harassment, including allegedly requiring a coach to fire a minority agent and allegedly announce his preference for extra large condoms at a staff meeting .[15] The report was corroborated by over seventy former and current employees of the Suns. Sarver and his legal team denied the vast majority of accusations and have pointed out that there are only a handful of sources on the record and, while the reporter may have reached out to 70 employees, the article provides no evidence that all of them spoke negatively of the organization.[16][17][18]  The Suns and Mercury organization under Sarver report some of the highest diversity in NBA front offices and basketball operations, with a record of hiring and promoting women, people of color, and people who identify as LGBT. The NBA further confirmed there have been no complaints made against the franchise to their anonymous tip line.[16] Sarver and the Suns have been on the record welcoming an NBA inquiry to clear up the allegations.[18][19][20][21]

Phoenix Mercury[edit]

Founded in 1997 by former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, Sarver purchased the WNBA team alongside the Phoenix Suns in 2004.[22]  One of the original eight franchises created at the founding of the WNBA for the inaugural 1997 season, the Phoenix Mercury are one of only three remaining in the current 12-team league to this day (along with the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks).[23] Of the twelve current WNBA teams, only five share the same majority owner as their NBA counterpart (Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Washington Mystics).[24] Under Sarver's ownership, the Mercury have won three WNBA championships (2007, 2009, 2014) and won conference titles four times, including during the 2020–2021 season (2007, 2009, 2014, 2021).[25][26]

RCD Mallorca[edit]

In January 2016, Sarver bought football team RCD Mallorca, at the time in the Spanish second division, for €20 million.[27]

Advocacy work[edit]

Opposition to Arizona SB-1070[edit]

In response to a 2010 Arizona Senate bill called the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act",colloquially known as SB-1070, which would make it a state misdemeanor crime for an undocumented person to be in Arizona and obligate police to make an attempt when practicable during a stop, detention or arrest to determine a person's immigration status, the Phoenix Suns adopted special "Los Suns" jerseys on Cinco De Mayo. Sarver also released a scathing rebuke of the law:[28][29][30]

... [T]he result of passing this law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question, and Arizona's already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them... I looked around our plane and looked at our players and the diversity in our organization. I thought we need to go on record that we honor our diversity in our team, in the NBA and we need to show support for that. As for the political part of that, that's my statement. There are times you need to stand up and be heard. I respect people's views on the other side but I just felt it was appropriate for me to stand up and make a statement.[31][30]

Personal life[edit]

In 1996, Sarver married Penny Sanders,[4] a Kansas City, Missouri native; they live in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and have three sons: Max (b. 1997), Jake (b. 1999), and Zach (b. 2001).[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wandering Jews: Former Tucsonans thrive in new locales – Robert Sarver". Arizona Jewish Post. September 15, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  2. ^ Arizona Daily Star article on the former Plaza International Hotel, built by Robert Sarver's father[dead link]
  3. ^ "Sarver Heart Center bio on Robert Sarver". Archived August 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Rivera, Steve (April 23, 2005). "Having a Blast". Tucson Citizen. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  5. ^ Campbell, Joel (July 8, 1997). "Zions to add San Diego bank and Oakland finance firm". Deseret News. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Wiles, Russ (April 6, 2011). "Suns' Sarver is first and foremost a banker". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  7. ^ Southwest Value Partners: "Three Downtown Towers are Sold for $274 Million" June 17, 2004. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  8. ^ "Phoenix Suns, Verizon 5G Performance Center - Work - ZGF". www.zgf.com. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  9. ^ "Game changer: How the Phoenix Suns and Verizon 5G are transforming sports". www.verizon.com. August 5, 2021. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  10. ^ Young, Jabari (July 16, 2021). "Phoenix Suns arena will be named Footprint Center in 'one of the most unique partnerships in sports'". CNBC. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  11. ^ "Footprint Center Modernization". HOK. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  12. ^ "Phoenix Suns start a new 'green' era at the Footprint Center". AZFamily. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  13. ^ Hoops, Zona (October 20, 2021). "The Suns will have a target on their back all season". Bright Side Of The Sun. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  14. ^ "Inside the Phoenix Suns' messy and dysfunctional front office". ESPN.com. March 4, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  15. ^ "Allegations of racism and misogyny within the Phoenix Suns: Inside Robert Sarver's 17-year tenure as owner". ESPN.com. November 4, 2021. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Rankin, Duane (November 11, 2021). "Former Phoenix Suns employees: Robert Sarver 'different,' but not racist or misogynistic". Arizona Republic.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ The Athletic Staff. "Suns, owner Robert Sarver deny allegations of racism, sexism in 'proposed story'". The Athletic. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Robert Sarver, Managing Partner, Suns Legacy Partners, LLC". Phoenix Suns. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  19. ^ "Larry Fitzgerald among Phoenix Suns partners who sign statement disputing Sarver allegations". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  20. ^ Feldman, Dan (November 5, 2021). "Suns coach Monty Williams addresses allegations against Robert Sarver". ProBasketballTalk | NBC Sports. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  21. ^ "Stephen A.: It will be hard for NBA to oust Robert Sarver | Watch ESPN". ESPN. Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  22. ^ News, Karli Matthias/Cronkite (April 27, 2020). "16 years ago, Sarver purchased Phoenix Suns for record $401 million". Cronkite News - Arizona PBS. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  23. ^ "History". WNBA.com - Official Site of the WNBA. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  24. ^ Tracy, Jeff (March 1, 2021). "Breaking down the WNBA's new ownership landscape after sale of Atlanta Dream". Axios.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ "Phoenix Mercury punch ticket to the Finals in front of record-setting crowd". ESPN.com. October 9, 2021. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  26. ^ "Phoenix Mercury". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  27. ^ Steve Nash buys majority stake in Mallorca Marca. January 5, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2018. Under his poor management the team has since been demoted to third division.
  28. ^ "SB 1070 at the Supreme Court: What's at Stake". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  29. ^ Witz, Billy (May 6, 2010). "'Los Suns' Join Protest, Then Stop the Spurs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  30. ^ a b Zirin, Dave (May 6, 2010). "The Nation: Here Come Los Suns...Against The Bill". NPR. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  31. ^ Andy Barr. "Suns protest Arizona law". POLITICO. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  32. ^ University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center: "The Sarver Family" Retrieved November 30, 2017.