In August 2022, investment firm RedBird Capital Partners (RedBird) completed a US $1.2 billion takeover of Italian football club, AC Milan. Alongside RedBird as the club’s new majority owner, Yankee Global Enterprises, the investment arm of the New York Yankees, joined forces with Main Street Advisors, the investment firm of LeBron James and Drake, to take a minority ownership stake. The combination of an NBA icon, a rap superstar, two storied sports franchises, and a renowned dealmaker (RedBird’s Gerry Cardinale) created a signature moment for private equity (PE) investment in professional sports.
One hundred years ago, in August 1923, the Green Bay Packers football club was formed in a public stock sale.
The Packers sold 1,000 shares at $5 apiece, raising $5,000 (about $90,000 today, adjusted for inflation). The team has held five stock sales since then, in 1935, 1950, 1997, 2011 and 2021, but despite raising tens of millions of dollars, the Packers’ unusual structure has a big asterisk: The team is a publicly owned nonprofit corporation, and the stock? It cannot be resold, traded or returned to the team.
Pickleball, once a low-stakes game relegated to retirement villages, is going pro — and its backers are aware their chance might not come again.
Brian Levine, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, is the interim Chief Executive Officer of Major League Pickleball, which launched in 2021 and now has a $5 million prize pool.