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Investing

The Premier League of Prestige

The Premier League of Prestige

Salvatore Buscemi

By Salvatore Buscemi, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Dandrew Partners and author of Investing Legacy

In Britain, they bestow knighthood on you; in America, they let you buy a professional sports team.

Statement assets are truly spectacular indicators of astronomical wealth, influence, and power. A statement asset is defined as one that makes you appear wealthier, smarter, and better connected than your peers. Behind your back, your friends might say, “I know the family that owns that NFL team, or that office tower,” or mention that they co-invested in a venture or other opportunity with well-known families as lead investors. Their status is elevated by their association with you.

Now, the specifics of their ownership in the team or their role as a controlling general partner in the syndicate may be unknown. What is known is their ownership of a sports team that has consistently held its value, a privilege not afforded to everyone, with the late Rush Limbaugh serving as an example. Other examples include ultra-high-end fine art, prime Class A real estate in major cities, European sports leagues, and anything aspirational yet not quantifiable on Instagram.

Professional sports ownership has begun sharing revenue with online sports gaming companies, opening up new revenue streams that were previously unanticipated.

NFL ownership is coveted because nobody likes to feel excluded.

The gatekeepers of these leagues are usually ownership committees, comprised of five to seven of the most prolific owners. This exclusivity is rigorously maintained; they vet every potential member. If anything appears amiss, the gatekeepers find a way to exclude that person from joining the league. In the past, a simple Google search revealing harassment allegations—posted on any public internet page—has been enough to disqualify someone.

This scrutiny is reminiscent of the unforgiving nature of NYC co-op boards, but with the added twist that the reasons for rejection are public knowledge.

Professional sports have always been a mechanism for wealth creation among the elite, protected by strong brand loyalty. Now, with the addition of financialization, valuations are set to continue their upward trajectory.

These enterprises are typically profitable, attracting many wealthy individuals into league ownership. Although some may lose money due to a lack of understanding, the industry generally provides a safety net. As a result, the value of these investments tends to increase over time, offering a relatively low-risk opportunity.

“Where else can you invest $250 million with the expectation of quadrupling that investment within seven years?”

Moreover, many sports owners possess multiple teams across various franchises, often seeing more than a fivefold return on each of their professional sports investments. This has not only increased their fortunes but also solidified their families’ legacies, setting a standard that will likely persist.

On the front lines, it’s evident that smaller leagues, such as professional women’s soccer, eSports, and minor league hockey, are beginning to appreciate in value. These leagues, many of which are owned by women and minorities, are benefiting from the surge of interest and investment from emerging families. The future looks bright, though I advise new investors to co-invest and refine their skills in this exclusive asset class alongside seasoned veterans.

For families with significant assets, the approach to professional sports ownership should mirror any other investment strategy: diversify across sectors and geographies to build a robust portfolio. Stan Kroenke has executed this strategy exceptionally well.

Do all sports owners share the same objectives? Some prefer to invest passively, simply taking pride in ownership. Others see it as an opportunity to leverage their involvement to enhance their other business interests. Acquiring a professional sports team transcends typical investment logic, serving as an ultimate emblem of achievement, influence, and social prominence for the exceptionally affluent. In this elite circle, such acquisitions go beyond mere wealth expansion, playing a crucial role in the intricate game of establishing and maintaining high-status prestige and influence. This realm, tightly controlled by its stewards and veiled in an aura of exclusivity and discretion, provides more than just economic security—it’s a tool for crafting enduring legacies. Within this context, the true worth of these investments is not measured solely by monetary gains but by the exclusive access and influence they provide, opening doors to realms that are beyond the reach and imagination of most.

Conversely, some invest through anonymous charitable trusts, aiming solely to contribute to society without seeking anything in return. Most, however, are driven by a desire for visibility and influence, which can also benefit their other business ventures. The community of pro sports owners is unique, and there’s no network quite like it.

About the Author

Salvatore Buscemi
Salvatore Buscemi is the CEO and co-founder of Dandrew Partners, a private family investment firm. He is author of “Making the Yield: Real Estate Hard Money Lending Uncovered” and “Raising Real Money: Real Estate Funds Uncovered” and his most recent work, “Investing Legacy: How The .001% Invest.”

Editor-in-Chief since 2011.

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