Team owners from note Cuban come Jerry Jones share the do"s and don"ts of gaining a team—and what come expect once you actually land one.


When financiers Marc Lasry and also Wes Edens bought the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014, the team had actually the worst record in the NBA, it play in among the the smallest markets and the price—$550 million—was the highest ever before for a skilled basketball team.

Lasry and also Edens know about distressed assets. They’d to buy billions’ worth of beat-up bonds, bank loans and also companies. However $550 million because that the Bucks? The team hadn’t won a league championship because 1971, and also it was 15-67 for the 2014 season.


“So, why execute it?” Lasry asks Robb Report rhetorically. “Because that was the price.”

Then-owner Herb Kohl, a former US senator, wanted $550 million, and also he want the team to stay in Milwaukee. No lot of negotiating would readjust his mind, Lasry says, and also Kohl can stick to his guns since the market for sports teams is unlike nearly any other, except maybe art. The assets room rare, difficult to compare and also in high demand, also now, after ~ a pandemic that has kept fans and their wallets away from stadiums and arenas worldwide.

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“My phone has actually been ringing constantly over the critical year from civilization who room interested in buying a team,” claims Steve Greenberg, managing director at Allen & Co., a boutique invest bank. “And we’ve had very, very few calls about selling teams. A large amount of wealth has actually been produced over the last decade, for this reason there space buyers out there, and that is very good for prices.”


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Golden State warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, prior right, reacts beside Stephen Curry together the warrior championship banner is revealed.Ben Margot/Associated Press


Case in point: the brand-new York Mets. The Wilpon and Katz households put the team up because that sale and also engaged Greenberg (considered by plenty of to be the ideal sports banker, ever) just prior to Covid-19 emerged. They retained the team top top the market, even as the outbreak came to be a pandemic, and also sold to hedge-fund mogul Steve Cohen in November for $2.42 billion, a phibìc American pro-sports record.

So lot for purchase the dip, because there wasn’t one. So just how do girlfriend land a professional sports franchise in a frothy market? Robb Report asked few of the finest minds in the business and came up with 10 recommendations. We additionally asked around those first few years of ownership, once the real work-related happens. Brand-new owners are often surprised through how various running a franchise is from, say, a tool-and-die company. It’s a thrill to check out 20,000 human being cheering for your asset, yet every decision you make is public, Lasry says.


Nobody knows once Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella decides to sink an extra billion right into the Azure cloud infrastructure, yet everyone knew when Houston Texans owner janice McNair traded All-Pro broad receiver DeAndre Hopkins come the Arizona Cardinals. ~ above Twitter, the is widely thought about to it is in the worst trade due to the fact that Boston Red Sox owner harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees or Russia took $7.2 million from the United states in exchange because that oil-rich Alaska. Many first-timers intend to operation their teams as with their various other businesses, controlling costs and never straying much from the spreadsheet. The truth is not favor that, claims Lasry. “What’s been surprising is how huge your desire to win is,” that says. “When girlfriend buy a team, you obviously want to, but you know the organization limitations of what you can do. And also then you throw all that out the window and say, ‘I’m going come do whatever it takes.’ ”

It has worked out just fine for Lasry and also Edens. Just 4 months after they got the Bucks, previous Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchase the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, make the Bucks acquisition look favor a bargain, also though LA is a vastly larger media market.


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Jim Crane hoists the Commissioner’s Trophy ~ his Houston Astros victory the 2017 civilization Series.Alex Gallardo/Associated Press


The Bucks got a better comp this previous October, when the family of so late owner Larry Miller marketed a bulk stake in the Utah Jazz to local software baron Ryan Smith because that a report $1.66 billion. Miller had purchased 50 percent the the Jazz for $8 million in 1985 and picked up the rest for an additional $14 million in 1986. No a negative return over 35 years, plus he acquired to watch every one of the gamings from a really great seat, and that brings united state to our an initial bit the advice around buying teams:

Don’t do it for the money.

Jerry Jones, legend owner that the Dallas Cowboys, says he has constantly been surprised by how much fans are invested in sports and how easy it is to market a team or league. “Every time ns think I have actually my hands about the attention in what we’re act in football, the NFL or the Dallas Cowboys, i misread it,” Jones speak Robb Report. The trick, that says, is turning that interest into cash. Jones go it very well. His ongoing branding that “America’s Team” in a state where football is as spiritual as wine is come the French has actually minted the billions. Rather don’t possess rather the exact same magic. If you choose cash flow, and you store a close eye ~ above things like EBITDA, CAGR and also NDR, then the sports business may not be because that you. A 2017 investigation by ESPN uncovered that virtually a 3rd of every NBA teams lost money in spite of massive national television contracts. And also that’s the NBA, which is really good at make money, reasonably speaking. Often, the only way people see a net acquire in sporting activities is by offering the team to an additional fan a few years under the road. It’s favor the art market. Paintings are nice come look at, but they don’t throw off any kind of profit until you discharge them.


Do it because that the money (but only if you have actually the time).

Whoever come up through the “greater fool” concept may have actually had professional sports in mind. Every time a team sells, who invariably says, “Oh, man, that male paid means too much.” Then, 10 years down the road, the team sells because that a lot of of the price (see the Jazz, above). Based on the critical three years of data, Allen & Co.’s Greenberg says, you deserve to expect an annualized return that 5 come 10 percent over 10 years. The question now is whether this weird Moore’s regulation of sporting activities will hold up when men like Ballmer and also Cohen room paying phibìc of $2 billion for a team. “There is no math that gets you come $2 billion because that the Clippers,” says an additional sports banker who declined to it is in named. “He most likely overpaid through $1 billion.” If past is prologue, the banker is walk to it is in proven wrong in around 10 years. The Cowboys, for one, space worth $6.43 billion, according to Robb Report’s sister publishing Sportico, yet Jones has actually said the wouldn’t market for much less than $10 billion. Seems crazy. Until it doesn’t.


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George Steinbrenner, left, major owner that the Yankees, offers manager Billy martin a bearhug and also congratulations after ~ each was doused by champagne in dressing room in ~ Royals Stadium.Associated Press


Keep her head.

Few people in the human being know how to run a semiconductor-manufacturing company, and very few people who don’t operation a semiconductor agency think they have the right to run one. Not true because that a sporting activities team. Far too countless fans are confident they could do the job, and also they say so on society media. Several of those pan have enough money to buy teams, and also they have to be careful, states Steve Horowitz, a partner in the boutique investment bank Inner circle Sports. His number-one piece of advice to new owners: “Be dispassionate roughly the jae won situation. Civilization who space brilliant in one organization often acquire into sports and have a harder time reasoning through the issues around the team. Smart human being will occasionally do questionable things about sports.” also owners v money come burn space going to feeling losses. “It’s simply no fun when you to buy a team and lose actual money in a year,” he says. “Breaking also is important. Shedding money is not fun, especially if points come as a surprise.”


But acknowledge non-monetary returns.

If Steve Cohen’s priority were simply minting much more money, he could keep the $2.42 billion he paid for the Mets in his investment firm, Point72, i beg your pardon netted 16 percent critical year, jacking his fortune increase by $1.4 billion, follow to Institutional Investor. However most sports owners don’t gain the exact same kick out of, say, purchase beat-up REITs or offering combined-cycle gas generators as they do from watching your team win. “This is not prefer buying a manufacturing company,” Greenberg tells Robb Report. “You don’t get psychic earnings from owning practically any other business, uneven you’re a finish wonk.” The trouble for type A organization owners: There’s no line item because that “psychic income” top top a balance sheet.

Be ready to surrender serious amounts of control.

We asked note Cuban what surprised him most after the bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000. The said: “Losing. I have zero manage once the sphere goes up. That’s uneven anything ns have ever done.” and that’s simply on the court. Groups are components of leagues. If you assumed your plank of directors, her investors or her regulators wielded too much power over her non-sports-business life, brace yourself. The league determines if you deserve to buy a team, and depending top top the sport, it deserve to exert Communist Party–like domination over her operations. The NFL, for one, needs that one person hold at the very least 30 percent the the same in a team and have last say on team matters. And that person can’t have more than 24 partners. The preeminence is producing havoc in Denver, wherein a three-member board must decide which of the seven youngsters of so late owner play Bowlen will control the Broncos. Bowlen passed away in 2019, leaving the King Lear–worthy hit in the courts. And it could get much more costly. Recently, commissioner roger Goodell reportedly acquired the authority to fine teams up come $10 million a year because that violating property rules. Individual owners can be fined up to $2 million. And also you thought the inheritance taxation was bad.


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Dallas Mavericks owner mark Cuban reacts throughout a game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.LM Otero/Associated Press


To know why leagues urge on a regulating owner, take into consideration the cautionary tale of the Atlanta Hawks: numerous years back, once the greatest of ripe partners refuse to authorize off on hiring suggest guard Joe Johnson, the various other eight wanted to boot him, and also the discussion eventually landing in court, prior to the league’s then commissioner, David Stern, sided v the mutinous eight and also the holdout agreed to sell them his 30 percent stake in the team. Other leagues have comparable rules. “You require a decision-maker,” states Lisa Baird, commissioner that the national Women’s soccer League. The NWSL is “single entity,” meaning owners have a share in the league, which pays player salaries and also handles sponsorships and such, while separation, personal, instance owners control their team’s affairs. “We have actually a many alignment amongst owners,” Baird says. “We obtain together and figure points out.”

Look past the large leagues.

More 보다 a decade ago, Jake Silverstein and his so late father, cable business man Barry Silverstein, thought about buying one NBA team. The big egos and also the publicity turned Barry off. Climate Ballmer paid all that money because that the Clippers, sending out prices out of sight. After ~ spending part time in Portland, Jake witnessed how popular the Timbers, a significant League football team, were. In 2015, the Silversteins and partners got the controlling interest in the Houston Dynamo. V it, they obtained a stake in the women’s team, the Dash. Fellow NWSL owner Angie lengthy says she and also her husband bought the civil liberties for an expansion team in Kansas City (along v Brittany Matthews, fiancée that Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes) in part because women’s football is exploding in popular and, therefore, a significant value. “We have every tailwind in the human being right now,” lengthy says. “And the number work.” last March, the NWSL signed a television attend to CBS, its first long-term one, and landed new sponsorships with Google, Verizon and Procter & Gamble. “Team prices room going higher,” long says. “Everyone loves the women’s game.”


Once you very own one, you’ll likely buy one more one.

After that bought the Dynamo, Jake Silverstein met a lot of other owners, and many the them own multiple teams. He easily learned why. “I view lots of opportunities to acquire or invest in clubs that are on the market, or turn off the market but potentially available,” the says. “That didn’t use to it is in the instance until I obtained in the flow of this world.” Silverstein took a stake in Swansea City football club in Wales last year. Swansea was an opportunistic purchase because the team had been relegated from the Premier league in 2018 (every year, the bottom three teams drop under to the league listed below to be changed by the league’s top three). “Swansea has a real shot in ~ getting promoted this year,” that says. A an ext avid team collector is mock Harris, cofounder of Apollo worldwide Management, who owns the brand-new Jersey Devils hockey team, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and component of Crystal palace F.C. In the Premier League. Even more acquisitive: Stanley Kroenke. He owns eight teams, varying from the classic (Arsenal F.C., LA Rams) to the digital (LA Gladiators, who play the very addictive video game Overwatch in a agree league). There room outliers, the course. Mark Cuban, for one, is done. “No more teams because that me,” he states in one e-mail.

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James Dolan the town hall his brand-new York Knicks play.Kathy Willens/Associated Press


Get all set to very own a media agency during interesting times.

Sporting events are one of the few things that viewers are unwilling to time shift, i.e., watch on replay later. The only comparable thing can be church. As soon as something is live, viewers can’t skip the ads, and that’s why we all know about Super key commercials. The NFL top the list. In March, networks including NBC, CBS, Fox, Amazon and also ESPN i agree to pay a total of $110 billion end 11 years, starting in 2022, for legal rights to transfer games, virtually doubling the worth of old deals. The NFL shares the money among its 32 teams so that the persons in huge media markets can’t insanity out-earn and also out-spend groups in the sticks. Significant League Baseball walk the exact same thing. The question is what happens as viewers bail the end of cable packages and also start streaming. Does the mean more revenue or less? Allen & Co.’s Greenberg claims the quandary looks like the grand Canyon. Ideal now, we’re top top the south Rim, say, which is cable. It’s pretty here. The money is great. However we’re looking across at the digital future, where much more people ask: Why pay because that a whole season if I have the right to stream the games à la carte? “You can’t phone call if the various other side is greater or lower, however you know you want to acquire there without falling to the bottom,” Greenberg says. “That’s what every rights owner is trying come negotiate. It’s going to acquire somewhat bumpy.” (For the record, the phibìc Rim the the cool Canyon is about 1,000 feet higher.)


Get to recognize the high-tech gambling business.

In situation you missed it, the united state Supreme Court in 2018 struck under a 26-year-old legislation that had properly banned sports betting in many states. Nothing focuses the mind favor money, and also sports owners are currently looking to capitalize ~ above gambling. Ted Leonsis, owner the the NBA’s Wizards, the WNBA’s Mystics and the fundings pro hockey team, every in Washington, D.C., wasted no time in cashing in. In August, he leased an are to a momentary sportsbook at his resources One Arena, and soon there’ll be a three-story irreversible one. Leonsis, who made his fortune at AOL, watch a brand-new world whereby fans bet on everything: will certainly LeBron do the free throw? will certainly the Patriots victory the quarter? will certainly Messi score the next goal? The windfall for owners can be huge.


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A Cleveland Browns pan at the “Perfect Season” parade in 2018.Tony Dejak/Associated Press


Understand you own a windy trust.

Those Patek Philippe ads save on computer a serial of truth—about sports teams. You don’t really own it. You’re just looking ~ it because that the next generation… the fans. In Europe, soccer clubs are institutions. The teams space tightly woven right into their communities. Picture a whole nation of green Bay Packers fans. Casualty reverberate v communities, specifically struggling ones. British comedian and actor Humphrey Ker likens gaining a brothers team come “buying a church.” He would certainly know: He assisted convince gibbs Rob McElhenney (It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia) and also Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) to acquisition Wrexham AFC, a fifth-tier soccer society in Wales that fans had actually bought and rescued in 2011. Wrexham was started in 1864, making it the third-oldest soccer society in the world. Therefore far, McElhenney and also Reynolds have shown the proper reverence. The pair paid nothing for the franchise however vowed to invest $2.6 million to do it a “global force,” Reynolds has said. They also want to make Wrexham a streaming star: Even before the acquisition closed, they began filming one episodic documentary around how the team fares. Think Ted Lasso, but real. And also for a really real multimillion-dollar Netflix-style payout. Ker, whom his buddies timeless made executive, management director that the club, is confident in their media instincts yet harbors no illusions around sports-management genius. “One point that can plague really successful people is that once they relocate from one ball to another, they i think they have actually an inalienable ideal to success. ‘Oh, I’m good at this thing, I’ll be great at that thing,’ ” that says. “We recognize that we have actually no idea what we’re doing, and we’ve surrounded ourselves with human being who do.”


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