By now you have all read the news: Pending MLS approval, Philadelphia 76ers minority owners Erick Thohir and Jason Levien will become new owners of D.C. United, according to Marc Stein, an ESPN senior NBA writer. Current D.C. United owner Will Chang will also retain an as of yet unknown stake in the team. They are also rumored to have made a stadium for D.C. United their top priority once all the contracts are signed. Not since the days of George Soros and AEG have United had this well funded of a potential ownership group. You have already read our story about Erick Thohir, but let's spend a moment on the other part of the new ownership team, Jason Levien.
Levien is currently a co-owner of the 76ers, along with Thohir, Will Smith, and others. Before that, he was an NBA agent whose clients included such names as Udonis Haslem, Luol Deng, and Hedo Turkoglu; he also counted a number of mid-level NFL players as members of his client list. He also served in the front office of the Sacramento Kings, as both Assistant General Manager and Senior Vice President. He was rumored to have been close to getting the General Manager job in both Sacramento and in Philadelphia, but neither has yet come to fruition. He also teaches sports law as an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley. This is a person who understands the business of sports, from both the player side and the ownership side.
Finally, what has seemed like a dream seems to finally be coming to reality. I know that many of you will not be satisfied until their are pictures of these two wearing D.C. United hats with Will Chang and Kevin Payne. Levien also has some experience in the political side of D.C., having been a speechwriter and apparently serving in the White House for a brief time in the 1990s. If anyone is going to be able to navigate the hellish swamp that is D.C. politics, it would have to be this group.
The immediate question on everyone's mind is of course the stadium and all the rumors and possibilities that surround that issue. But United are moving into a new era, an era where they may finally have the money to make something happen. Let us also remember at least one thing: I am fairly certain that Thohir and Levien did not buy into a team if it was at all a possibility that it was going to move from the 8th ranked media market to the 27th. In the words of Inigo Montoya, they know something we don't know.