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#pounditThursday, August 6, 2020

Sports Business

The Rock buys XFL with partner for $15 million

The XFL has sold to a new owner, and fans are likely going to be excited to hear who is taking over the league.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has partnered with Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital to purchase the XFL for $15 million. The news was first reported by Scott Soshnick of Sportico and later confirmed by XFL president Jeffrey Pollack.

“This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and a start of fantastic new beginning for the XFL with the best possible ownership group going forward,” Pollack told Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal.

The Rock is one of the most famous wrestlers of all time and has a relationship with Vince McMahon from the time he spent in the WWE. He has gone on to enjoy an incredibly successful acting career and is worth an estimated $300 million.

There was talk that McMahon could be planning to buy the XFL out of bankruptcy at a cheap price after the league file for bankruptcy protection in April. He quickly dismissed those rumors.

McMahon invested over $200 million of his own money into reviving the XFL, which he first launched in 2001. This year’s reincarnation of the league played half of its 10-game season before things were cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Patrick Mahomes buys piece of the Royals

Patrick Mahomes signed the richest contract in professional sports history earlier this month, and the reigning Super Bowl MVP has already made at least one major investment.

On Tuesday, the Kansas City Royals issued a press release announcing that Mahomes has joined their ownership group.

At age 24, Mahomes is now the youngest ever part-owner of a major American sports team.

Mahomes has a baseball background, as he was a star baseball player in high school and played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Texas Tech before quitting to focus on football. His father, Pat Mahomes, pitched in the majors for 11 seasons.

Believe it or not, Mahomes may not be the only Chiefs star to join an MLB ownership group this offseason. Travis Kelce is part of an investment group that is trying to buy another franchise.

Mahomes signed a contract extension with the Chiefs this offseason that is worth more than $500 million.

Report: Alex Rodriguez’s group still in running to buy Mets

Alex Rodriguez

There has been a lot of talk about Alex Rodriguez and his bidding group for the New York Mets potentially being overpowered by their billionaire competitors, but apparently A-Rod and his fiancee Jennifer Lopez are still very much in the running to buy the franchise.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported on Monday that the bidding for the Mets still involves at least three groups, and the one led by Rodriguez and Lopez is one of them.

A-Rod and J-Lo have some steep competition. Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, who had a deal in place with Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon that fell apart back in February, is still considered by many to be the favorite. Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the firm that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, is also a finalist. However, Rodriguez and Lopez have plenty of backers with deep pockets.

Cohen has reportedly bid $2 billion for the Mets and another $2 billion for their TV network, SNY. A-Rod and J-Lo have put together a diverse group that features a number of current and former star athletes, but they may have trouble raising the cash that their competitors can more easily pull together.

Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal to start player agency

Tracy  McGrady

Former NBA players Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O’Neal are planning to team up to launch a new player agency.

McGrady and O’Neal became friends when they were both young players in the NBA. The two were first-round picks in consecutive drafts, and they became friends since they shared an agent and shoe company they partnered with.

According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, who wrote an in-depth story about the players’ plans, McGrady and O’Neal spent the past few months while they were at home in quarantine talking about things they could do. They decided they wanted to pursue creating an agency, believing they can help young black players. The agency will be called Seven1 Sports Group and Entertainment.

In order to run the agency, McGrady would likely step away from his role as a broadcaster on ESPN. O’Neal is planning to take a test in January to qualify as an NBPA agent.

O’Neal, 41, entered the NBA in 1996 straight out of high school. He made six straight All-Star teams while starring for the Indiana Pacers in the 2000s. McGrady, 41, is a two-time NBA scoring leader and made seven straight All-Star teams in the 2000s. McGrady made the Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2017 and expressed what an honor it was.

Report: Mets bidding coming down to Steve Cohen, Harris Blitzer

New York Mets

The New York Mets were criticized for allowing their deal with Steve Cohen to fall apart earlier this year, but that may have resulted in them creating a bidding war between the hedge fund manager and other billionaires.

Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon received their first round of bids for the franchise last week, and Charles Gasparino of FOX Business Network reports that the belief is that Cohen and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment are the finalists.

In addition to the Mets, Cohen also wants to buy SNY, which is the network the team owns. The Mets have said for the time being that the network is not for sale, but that could change.

Gasparino also reported that Cohen is concerned MLB owners may block his attempt to buy the team because of a past association he had with insider trading, but executives around baseball do not believe that will be an issue.

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment is run by billionaires David Blitzer and Josh Harris. The group also owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding sports leagues due to the coronavirus and their previous botched deal with Cohen, the Mets appear to be in a position of strength. Multiple billionaires are bidding for the team, with a casino mogul recently getting involved as well. Another group led by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez also wants to buy the team, though there are questions about whether or not they can raise enough cash.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson joins in on Mets bidding

New York Mets

Steve Cohen has been viewed as the favorite to purchase the New York Mets, but a Las Vegas casino mogul could wind up standing in the way of the hedge fund billionaire.

According to a report from Thornton McEnery of the New York Post, Sheldon Adelson and his private equity firm Silver Lake Partners* have joined a group bidding on the Mets that is led Josh Harris and David Blitzer. Harris and Blitzer already own the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.

Adelson, 86, is worth an estimated $30 billion, while Harris and Blitzer are worth more than $5 billion combined. The group should have no issue raising the funds needed to purchase the Mets, though Adelson’s status as a somewhat controversial figure from the casino world could make it more difficult for him to gain approval from MLB owners. If he’s only a limited partner, he could purchase a stake in the team without needing approval from the league.

Adelson was part of talks to fund the Raiders stadium in Las Vegas a few years back, but that deal ultimately never went through.

Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon received their initial round of bids last week. Cohen had a deal to buy an 80 percent stake in the team at a valuation of $2.6 billion back in February, but the deal fell apart. He is still considered a front-runner, however, along with the group led by Alex Rodriguez and his fiancee Jennifer Lopez.

*Silver Lake Partners sent a statement to Larry Brown Sports denying involvement in the bid: “Any claim that Silver Lake is making or joining a bid for the NY Mets is entirely false and inaccurate,” the statement said.

Report: Steve Cohen still considered favorite to buy Mets

New York Mets

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen had the framework of a deal in place to buy the New York Mets earlier this year, but negotiations between him and team owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon fell apart. That does not, however, mean they are dead.

The Mets are set to receive a first round of bids from prospective buyers later this week, and Charles Gasparino of FOX Business Network reported on Monday that the bids are expected to be “weak” and well below what the Wilpons are seeking. While Cohen is not planning to submit a bid this week, Gasparino said Tuesday that the billionaire is still considered the “favorite” to buy the franchise.

Cohen had the framework of a deal in place to buy an 80 percent stake in the Mets at a $2.6 billion valuation, but things fell through in February due to a number of issues. That opened the door for other potential buyers, including former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and his fiancee Jennifer Lopez. A-Rod and J-Lo recently found an investor willing to contribute $250 million to a potential purchase of the team, though it’s unclear if their bid is one of the ones that will be submitted this week.

The value of the Mets may be lower now than it was earlier this year due to the impact of the coronavirus. That could result in bids that are a lot lower than the Wilpons were originally expecting, but they may need to adjust their expectations if they want to sell. If Cohen ends up buying the team, the way the negotiations played out may actually save him money.