Atlanta Hawks announce landmark deal with black-owned banks

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Earlier today, the Atlanta Hawks announced that they had agreed to refinance the Emory Sports Medicine Complex construction loan with a syndicate of black-owned banks. The $ 35 million loan marks the first time that a professional sports franchise has benefited from a large loan underwritten exclusively by black banks.

The groundbreaking transaction was facilitated with the support of the brand new National Black Bank Foundation, which organized a syndication team to structure the transaction. Georgia-based Carver State Bank was the union’s lead arranger. By partnering with the Black Banks Syndicate, the Hawks are demonstrating both that black banks can compete with central banks for commercial lending and are using the Club’s strong credit rating to bolster the capital cushion of black banks so that they can better serve their tradition of customers.

“Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to putting our values ​​into action – choosing to work with black banks and calling attention to the need for black banks to thrive as they strive to address the lack of access to capital in black communities, ”said Tony Ressler. , principal owner of the Atlanta Hawks. “We always strive to ask ourselves how the Hawks can best help those in the community who are already helping others, and today’s announcement is another step in our commitment to use the Hawks as a positive agent of change. It is both good for the community and good for business to empower new and existing black businesses. “

“The Atlanta Hawks are putting their money where they say it is when it comes to being a black business ally, and Carver State Bank is proud to be the lead institution in this landmark transaction. By selecting an all-black banking syndicate to provide this funding, the Hawks are strengthening all of our banks, ”said Robert E. James, II, president of Carver Development and president-elect of the National Bankers Association. “What we gain with this loan strengthens our collective ability to provide even more loans and financial services to small businesses and black consumers, and we are able to demonstrate our ability to complete a large and sophisticated lending transaction.” Tony and his team are true allies in the race for racial equity.

“Because black-owned banks are so starved for capital, they were previously unable to compete with large commercial banks or scale to meet the unique needs of borrowers of color, who are turned down for credit. at twice the national rate, ”Ashley said. Bell, general counsel for the NBBF, said. “Because of the Hawks’ leadership and commitment to financial inclusion, black banks are finally playing in the major league.”

Located in Brookhaven, the 90,000 square foot Emory Sports Medicine Complex contains the official training and training facilities of the Hawks, the hub of the sports medicine program and the sports science and research division of Emory Healthcare and the Peak Performance (P3) project. The complex was completed in the fall of 2017.

“The Hawks are not only the first in the league with this deal, but are the first in all major league sports,” said Ryan Clark, NBBF board member, ESPN commentator and former footballer. NFL. “Banking black is a simple yet incredibly powerful demonstration of the professional sports franchise’s commitment to its players and fans. Now we need other teams to follow the Hawks’ lead.

Carver State Bank headed the Black Banks Syndicate, which also included Carver Federal Savings Bank, Citizens Savings Bank, Citizens Trust Bank, Commonwealth National Bank, Industrial Bank, Liberty Bank & Trust, M&F Bank and Optus Bank. Under federal regulations, banks can only create credit that is roughly 10 times their Tier 1 capital, which is generated by interest on deposits, bank charges, and the sale of shares. With the support of the NBBF, black-owned banks are now better able to regroup in order to become competitive with the big banks, to significantly increase the amount of money they can lend and thus increase the services they can provide to the communities they serve. .

“This partnership reflects the idea of ​​the ‘genius of’ ET ‘because it has great financial sense AND has the ability to significantly change the landscape of a community. It was truly rewarding to work with NBBF and our syndicated banks to develop the structure and create the relationships that have already made the transaction a success, ”said Thad Sheely, COO of Hawks & State Farm Arena.

In majority-minority postal codes, black banks are often the primary source of fair, non-predatory loans. But since 2001, their number has fallen by more than 50%. Today, only 18 black-owned banks remain, according to the FDIC. The black bank downturn created bank branch deserts that have led to historic disparities between the banked and unbanked populations of the United States. According to the Federal Reserve, 49% of black households were unbanked or underbanked in 2019, compared to just 15% of white families.

Earlier this fall, the Ressler Gertz Family Foundation and Hawks announced investments totaling $ 40 million to strengthen the economic empowerment of black communities in Atlanta and broaden their community engagement and diversity and inclusion.

Comer Capital Group and Dentons acted as financial advisor and advisor, respectively, to the syndicate led by Carver State Bank and assisted the National Black Bank Foundation.

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