Endeavor Takes Swing at Baseball by Purchasing Nine Minor-League Teams
By Brian Steinberg
Endeavor has already dipped into sports in a big way with its ownership of UFC and the PBR bull-riding league. Now it wants to add some more traditional assets to its mix.
The Hollywood talent company and owner of WME said Wednesday that it would launch Diamond Baseball Holdings, a unit that would help bolster baseball. As part of its efforts, Endeavor agreed to acquire nine clubs in Major League Baseball’s Professional Development League, including teams affiliated with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees, among others. The Triple-A teams include the Iowa Cubs, the Memphis Redbirds, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders, the Hudson Valley Renegades and the San Jose Giants. Endeavor will also operate all four affiliates of the Atlanta Braves.
The deals remain subject to closing conditions and the league’s approval process. Endeavor indicated it was in “late-stage negotiations” with other franchises, and could have other announcements “in due course.” Terms of the pact were not made available.
“Opportunities to move into an ownership position of a sport so steeped in history are increasingly rare, and we are confident this will drive meaningful growth in the Owned Sports Properties segment of our company,” said Mark Shapiro, president of Endeavor in a prepared statement. “Just as we’ve done for the UFC, PBR and Euroleague, we see tremendous potential to turbocharge these storied Clubs using the scale and capabilities of Endeavor. Our expertise across sponsorship sales, event operations, licensing, marketing and content creation will bring incredible value to these clubs, supporting communities across the country who form the backbone of the Professional Development League system.”
Diamond Baseball Holdings will support clubs in the areas of ticket sales, partnerships, naming rights, food and beverage, merchandise, content strategy, collectibles and media rights.
Pat Battle and Peter B. Freund were named to oversee Diamond Baseball Holdings. Battle, an advisor to Endeavor, will serve as executive chairman, while Freund, a veteran baseball advisor, was named CEO.
“We are excited to lead Diamond Baseball Holdings and create new opportunities for Clubs and communities that play an essential role in cultivating America’s favorite pastime,” said Battle and Freund, in a prepared statement. “We will be global in our ambitions and hyper-local in our approach, and creating incredible fan experiences will remain our number one priority. Additionally, we look forward to providing opportunities for growth to the employees of PDL Clubs whose passion and ingenuity have built the sport through the decades.”