Non-public fairness investments in skilled sports activities groups have exploded up to now 4 years, per PitchBook

Happy Monday, Term Sheeters. Finance reporter Luisa Beltran here.

Private equity’s interest in sports teams has increased rapidly in the past four years.

Since 2019, there have been at least 20 private equity investments in major league sports teams, according to Kyle Walters, associate analyst, private equity at PitchBook. This compares to just six PE sports deals from 2016 to 2019. 

Sixty-two major North American sports teams, valued at $179.7 billion, have “connections” to PE, according to a new Private Equity in Sports Dashboard from PitchBook. (Connections refers to the PE firms investing in the teams or the individual execs.) The PitchBook dashboard, which went live Sept. 7, tracks private equity investments in the four North American men’s pro leagues that allow PE ownership: Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer. 

Booming valuations of sports teams is one of the main reasons for the PE interest. For example, the Dallas Cowboys saw its valuation rise 20% to $9.2 billion in 2023, according to Sportico. 

Sports teams are very unique assets, Walters said. “Other sectors like tech and healthcare can be cyclical. Sports is less prone to a recession,” he said.

Ownership rules of sports teams began softening four years ago. In 2019, MLB became the first of the professional sports leagues to allow private equity funds to buy passive stakes in teams. The NBA, the NHL, and MLS followed, each allowing PE to invest in their teams but only for minority stakes. Only the National Football League, or NFL, still bars private equity and sovereign wealth funds from ownership, Fortune has reported.

The league that has generated the most interest from private equity? That title belongs to the NBA. There are 30 teams in the NBA. Twenty of the NBA teams, valued at an estimated $46.8 billion, have a private equity connection. This includes the Boston Celtics, the Detroit Pistons, and Los Angeles Lakers. NBA teams that don’t have any connection to PE include the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets, and the New York Knicks, PitchBook said.

When it comes to MLB, 18 of 30 teams have connections to private equity. This includes the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the New York Yankees. The NHL has 10 teams with private equity connections, while MLS has 14 teams.

PE firms with funds dedicated to sports teams include Dyal Partners, which is part of Blue Owl Capital; Arctos Partners; and Ares Management, Walters said. In July, I set about to determine how many executives in the alternative space, which includes private equity and hedge funds, had invested in sports teams. I discovered that about 120 execs are investors in sports teams and many own multiple assets. Consider David Blitzer, a Blackstone Group executive, who has invested in the Philadelphia 76ers, the Cleveland Guardians and the Washington Commanders. Blitzer is global head of Blackstone’s tactical opportunities group. You can read the full story here.

See you tomorrow,

Luisa Beltran
Twitter: @LuisaRBeltran
Submit a deal for the Term Sheet newsletter here.

Joe Abrams curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.


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Open Cosmos, a Harwell, U.K.-based startup that designs and makes satellites to gather data from space, raised $50 million in Series B funding from ETF Partners, Trill Impact, and A&G

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Mindtrip, a San Francisco-based company employing A.I. to aid in travel planning, raised $7 million in seed funding from Costanoa Ventures.

Inari, a Barcelona-based tech infrastructure company for insurance and reinsurance firms, raised $5.2 million in seed funding. Caixa Capital Risc led the round and was joined by CDTI and others. 

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Alchemy Copyrights agreed to acquire Round Hill Music Royalty Fund, a Nashville, Tenn.-based private equity firm that invests in music copyright assets, for around $468.8 million, per Reuters.

Cordental Group, backed by New MainStream Capital, acquired Signature Dental Experience, a Bloomington, Ill.-based dental services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Dunes Point Capital acquired Warshaw Supply, a New York City-based data communication and electrical products provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Havencrest Capital Management acquired a majority stake in Tekton Research, an Austin, Tex.-based research center that conducts vaccine and infectious disease clinical trials, among other therapeutics. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Heartisan, a portfolio company of Ronin Equity Partners, will acquire North Country Packaging, an Almena, Wisc.-based cheese producer, with $10 million in revolving credit. 

Legacy Food Group, backed by Quad-C Management, acquired Keck’s Food Service, a Millerton, Penn.-based food products distributor, M&V Provisions, a Ridgewood, N.Y.-based food products manufacturer and distributor, Thomsen Foodservice, a Rumford, R.I.-based food product distributor, and Legacy Foodservice Alliance, a Glen Allen, V.A.-based supply chain company connecting foodservice distributors with suppliers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Seacoast Service Partners, backed by White Wolf Capital Group, acquired United Plumbing of Southeast Florida, a Ft. Myers, Fla.-based plumbing service provider.

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