It’s no secret that the Black dollar is big business, and with the Atlanta Hawks needing to refinance the construction loan for their Emory Sports Medicine Complex, who better to go to than a Black-owned bank?
On Thursday, the Hawks announced that with the help of the newly-formed National Black Bank Foundation, they secured a loan for $35 million with a syndicate of Black-owned banks. The NBBF organized a syndication team to structure the groundbreaking deal, and Georgia-based Carver State Bank served as Lead Arranger for the syndicate.
In doing so, the Atlanta Hawks have become the first professional sports franchise to receive a significant loan underwritten exclusively by Black-owned banks. And according to the Hawks, this deal proves that “Black banks can compete with money center banks for commercial loans.” Additionally, using the team’s strong credit rating will “bolster the capital cushion for Black banks so that they can better serve their traditional customer base.”
It’s a business partnership that’s both mutually beneficial and historic.
“Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to putting our values into action—by choosing to work with Black banks and drawing attention to the need for Black banks to thrive as they work toward addressing the lack of access to capital in Black communities,” Tony Ressler, Principal Owner of the Atlanta Hawks, said in a statement to The Root. “We always strive to ask ourselves how the Hawks can best help those in the community that are already helping others, and today’s announcement is another step in our commitment to use the Hawks as a positive agent of change. This is both good for the community and good business to empower new and existing Black businesses.”
This isn’t just lip service either. In October, Ressler committed to pouring as much as $40 million into Atlanta’s Black community, in addition to expanding upon the Hawks’ diversity and inclusion departments and providing mentorship for local Black entrepreneurs.
“Because Black-owned banks are so starved for capital, they’ve previously not been able to compete with major commercial banks or scale to meet the unique needs of borrowers of color, who are rejected for credit at twice the national rate,” Ashley Bell, NBBF general counsel, said in a statement to The Root. “Because of the Hawks’ leadership and commitment to financial inclusion, Black banks are finally playing in the major league.”
Aside from Carver State Bank, other Black-owned Banks in this syndicate include Carver Federal Savings Bank, Citizens Savings Bank, Citizens Trust Bank, Commonwealth National Bank, Industrial Bank, Liberty Bank & Trust, M&F Bank, and Optus Bank. What makes this conglomerate so powerful is that under federal regulations, banks can only produce credit up to 10 times their Tier 1 capital. But with the support of the NBBF, Black-owned banks can form Voltron and significantly increase the amount of money they can lend, in turn, better serving our communities.
“The Atlanta Hawks are putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to being an ally of Black businesses, and Carver State Bank is proud to be the lead institution on this historic transaction. By selecting an all-Black bank syndicate to provide this financing, the Hawks are strengthening all of our banks,” Robert E. James, II, President, Carver Development & Chairman-Elect, National Bankers Association said in a statement to The Root. “What we earn from this loan strengthens our collective ability to provide even more loans and financial services to Black small businesses and consumers, and we are able to show our ability to pull off a large, sophisticated loan transaction. Tony and his team are real allies in the movement for racial equity.”
This is a huge deal that hopefully inspires other power players in the sports and entertainment industries to follow suit. When Black banks level up, we all benefit, so hopefully, we hear many more stories like this in the new year.