Weekly Column: Strategy of Growing Sports Conglomerates

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder Jeremy Evans has written a column about the strategies sports teams owners and investors are using to grow their investments beyond one field or even one game.

You can read the full column below.

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In the past, owning a sports team tended to be passion project. A childhood dream to be a part of something or someone you rooted for to win. A brand worth protecting.

However, with the advance of time and resources, sports teams became high-priced and well-earning investments. Television contracts and the copyrights behind them started what became million and billion dollar reinvestments in players and infrastructure. New stadiums now represent entertainment, media, and sports programming and opportunities at their best.

The growth of minor league development systems and investments in gaming teams and ownership were some major goals of the past few years. Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) were a major part of the sports franchise growth and strategy in 2020 and 2021. SPACs led many franchises to think beyond the field and into more beyond one sport. Going into 2022, there seems to be three major goals of sports franchises.

Cross-League Investments

While gaming will continue to grow in sports and beyond, sport franchises have invested in other sports leagues and teams. Liberty Media has ownership in Major League Baseball (Atlanta Braves), international racing circuit (Formula 1), and stakes in Kroenke Arena Company, which includes the National Football League, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association, and the Premier League (Rams, Avalanche, Rapids, Nuggets, and Arsenal F.C.), Drone Racing League, and Meyer Shank Racing. Stan Kroenke himself has ownership across multiple leagues and seas. Fenway Sports Group was once just the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park, but now includes other American and international sports team investments. As the ability to consume sports becomes easier, so will the growth of international viewership and ownership.

Sports Betting Activations & Partnerships

The United States sports betting market doubled in 2021 from 2020. This was the result of states passing licensing schemes through legislation to allow sports betting operators to conduct business post the Murphy v. NCAA decision in 2018. As more states, including California, pursuant to a 2022 ballot initiative, and Florida coming online with sports betting, the market will only grow. California is the largest state by population and GDP, Florida is third in population and fourth in GDP. New York, second in both, just went live in January with sports betting. Add Texas to the mix and the sports betting market will triple, quadruple, or more. This is especially true as sports betting becomes normalized. The issue going forward will be compliance and impropriety and the growth of sports betting in college sports.

Entertainment Content about Sports on Streaming Platforms

The Netflix and Formula 1 success from the Drive to Survive series was on the heels of The Last Dance. The Man in the Arena will be followed by sport docuseries with about the professional tennis tour and the PGA Tour. Hard Knocks on HBO is the beginning of what teams can do to increase content production about their teams and brands. Entertainment should and will indeed be a major future investment of sports teams and conglomerates.

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About Jeremy M. Evans:

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele and is licensed to practice law in California.