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Mortgage Magnate Lives Childhood Dream With Cavs' Deal

Dan Gilbert-led group to acquire Cleveland basketball team

January 4, 2005

By PAULA PARISOT


The owner of the nation's largest online home lender has added a sports team to his long list of acquisitions. And his company says a sponsorship deal already in place with a competing team doesn't present a conflict of interest.

Detroit mortgage magnate Dan Gilbert in a press release today confirmed he is leading an investor group that has agreed to buy the Cleveland Cavaliers for $375 million from current owner Gordon Gund.

Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans and Michigan-based home mortgage company Rock Financial, will assume ownership of the basketball team and the 20,000 seat Gund arena if the NBAs board of governor's finalizes the deal.

It is reported that Gund will retain minority ownership, up to 10%.

To allay any fears Cleveland fans may have of him moving the team, Gilbert said in a public statement today that they would not be moving the Cavaliers.

He also stated that they will be committed to the fans of Cleveland sports and has hopes to bring a title home to the town that has waited 41 years for a championship.

"Our background is building winning teams in the business world," he said. "Our philosophy centers around two things: creating an environment and culture where our entire team can achieve their maximum potential and delivering a "world class' experience to our clients, or in this case, our fans."

While Gilbert's company, Rock Financial has been the presenting sponsor for the Detroit Pistons for the past four years and has an exclusive endorsement agreement with its point-guard Chauncey Billups, Quicken Loans spokeswoman Elizabeth Jones told MortgageDaily.com a potential conflict of interest will not affect future business with the Pistons.

"The Cavaliers deal, which is pending NBA approval, won't impact Rock Financial's presenting sponsorship of the Pistons," Jones said in an e-mail. "We expect to continue the great relationship we have with them."

Gilbert, 42, earned a degree in Broadcast Communication from Michigan State University in 1984 and tried his hand at sports broadcasting. He then founded Livonia, Mich.-based Rock Financial in 1985 as a first-year law student at Wayne State University and then took the company public in 1998.

Quicken Loans, reacquired by Gilbert in July, 2002, is privately held and reportedly closed about $12 billion in residential mortgage loans in 2004 and has 2,250 employees.

"When you are a little kid and you realize you're not going to play sports at a big-league level, the only other way in would be some kind of ownership," Gilbert was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying after being reportedly outbid to acquire the Milwaukee Brewers last year. "And sure, it'd be great to do it in my hometown, but nobody is selling."


Paula Parisot is a freelance writer for MortgageDaily.com. In addition to 4 years' journalism experience at other news publications, Paula has worked in the mortgage industry. Email Paula at: [email protected]



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