2023 team sales set new standards across sport


Matt Ishbia bought the Phoenix Suns for an NBA record $4 billion.Getty Images

Billionaire last August Rob Walton He led a group of investors to buy the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion. The deal not only set a new world record for team sale prices, but also marked the high point in a year of big deals. The previous record was set just 10 weeks ago when Chelsea FC was sold to the group he led for $3.1 billion. Todd Boley and Clear Lake Capital. Earlier this year, Michelle Kang It reset the bar for women’s sports with its acquisition of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit for a league-record $35 million.

shortly More teams will be tested or rumored to be on the market later in the year, said the chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Ted Leonsis He told Sports Business Journal that he expects the wave of investments to have a transformative impact on the sports industry. “You’ll see leagues improving overall in terms of professionalism, not just in the games themselves, but also in investor relations and financial analysis,” Leonsis said.

that’s right, We’re less than halfway through 2023, and last year’s transformative deal closure has blown away. Three of his four major professional leagues, the oldest in North America, have set or are close to setting new records for single-team dominance.

NBA owner approved in February Matt Ishbiabought the Phoenix Suns for a league-record $4 billion, nearly double the previous $2.35 billion. Joe Tsai The Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center were paid for four years ago.

a group of investors led by Josh Harris He is nearing approval to buy the Washington Commanders for $6 billion, which would be nearly 30% more than the Broncos’ sale price, currently the highest for any sports team.

And just last week, a medical billionaire Michael Andlauer agreed to acquire the Ottawa Senators for nearly $1 billion, replacing the $900 million NHL-record valuation set for the Pittsburgh Penguins when the team is acquired by Fenway Sports Group in late 2021. surpassed.

young The league also has record sales. Last month, the MLS announced an expansion team in San Diego for a league-record $500 million expansion. In April, Sixth Street acquired NWSL’s future Bay Area expansion team for $53 million, another record price. And in February, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm sold a 14% stake in the team at a valuation of $151 million, nearly 10 times the league’s all-time record deal.

all Meanwhile, the pending sale of Manchester United could set a new world sports record. The sale process will be managed by The Rain Group and is expected to be completed this year.

or The standard-setting team’s level of M&A activity is unprecedented, all in the face of the collapse of regional sports networks, ever-rising interest rates and a deteriorating global economy.

of The last time the industry saw an across-the-board record price close to this level was in 2014, when the Los Angeles Clippers ($2 billion), Buffalo Bills ($1.4 billion) and Milwaukee Bucks ($5 billion). $50 million) was a landmark deal. . Two years ago, the Haslam family bought the Cleveland Browns for $1 billion, and Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the Dodgers for $2.15 billion, a record for an MLB team until 2020. Steve Cohen Acquired the Mets for $2.4 billion.

of The ongoing M&A frenzy is due in part to the over-abundance of teams in the market, largely due to the circumstances.The senator was in trouble after the owner’s death Eugene MelnikMeanwhile, Commanders and Suns Wales owners were under pressure to sell due to past personal transgressions.

and Certainly challenges remain. The high hopes of Major League Baseball joining the record-breaking party met with obvious headwinds. Arte Moreno With the Los Angeles Angels out of the market in January, the Washington Nationals paused the sales process before the start of the season. And while the women’s team has skyrocketed in value, it remains noticeably smaller compared to the more established men’s team. In fact, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx weren’t valued as part of the recent sale of the Suns and Timberwolves, respectively, according to people familiar with the deal.

but A parade of eye-popping ratings for the hockey team ranked 8th worst in attendance at home games this year. An extended team would require millions more in capital and start-up costs. This is the strongest evidence we’ve seen so far that sophisticated investors believe sports teams offer a safe, uncorrelated asset class that offers greater upside. There is also. And with dozens of private equity firms lining up to provide more liquidity, it doesn’t seem likely that the situation will slow down any time soon.

Chris Smith writes a monthly column on financial news and trends.he Please contact crsmith@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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