The Atlanta Hawks announced Sunday that Turner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin would become the new CEO of the group. Bruce Levenson, who has had a stake in the team since 2004, will remain controlling owner, while Koonin will act as an Atlanta-based partner with a partial stake.
According to the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks brought Koonin on board to help the team appeal
to more free agents and build a larger fan base. The team had its seventh
straight playoff appearance last weekend, the longest streak in the East, but
consistently fail to have a large crowd turnout. Of 30 teams in the National
Basketball Association, the Hawks rank 28th in crowd size, with an average of
14,400 fans attending each game, according to ESPN.
"Steve Koonin's reputation as a game
changer in both marketing and media makes him the ideal leader to usher the
Atlanta Hawks into a new era,” Levenson told the AJC.
Koonin had served as president at Turner since
2000 and oversaw TNT, TBS and TruTV. Before that, he spent 14 years at
Coca-Cola. Both companies are headquartered in Atlanta.
“I have a deep commitment to Atlanta,”
Koonin said in a statement on the NBA website. “My family has been a part of
this city for nearly a century. I have watched the excitement and potential of
the entire city growing together as our sports teams achieve success. I
couldn’t be more excited to join the Hawks organization.”