SBD/June 14, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Hilton Turns To Former Athletes As Investors To Help Create Buzz

David Robinson (l) and Magic Johnson are active investors in the hotel industry
Hilton Worldwide execs are "hoping they can bring enough buzz and excitement to individual hotel properties that they stand out in an increasingly competitive hotel industry” by targeting professional athletes as investors, according to Kris Hudson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Several players, including Basketball HOFers MAGIC JOHNSON and DAVID ROBINSON, “have scored some early victories in the business.” Robinson has been “an active buyer in the past year through his Admiral Capital Group and the real-estate fund it manages.” The fund "acquired a Hilton Garden Inn in Houston last October, bought the mortgage on a Renaissance hotel in Las Vegas in September and is preparing to buy its third hotel, an upscale property in the Dallas area, in the coming months.” Former MLBer GLENN DAVIS also “owns two Hilton-branded hotels in Columbus, Ohio, and is building a Marriott in Atlanta.” Hudson noted athletes “are far from undefeated in their investments.” Several clients of investment firm ProNet Capital LLC, including former NFLers AMANI TOOMER, LAVAR ARRINGTON and former NBAer NICK VAN EXEL, “invested a cumulative" $12M in a Ritz-Carlton resort "under construction in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the mid-2000s.” The project, "called Molasses Reef, ran out of financing" in '08 when its primary lender, Lehman Brothers Holdings, collapsed. Former tennis players, and husband and wife, ANDRE AGASSI and STEFI GRAF in ’08 “dropped plans to build a luxury Fairmont hotel as part of a friend's development near Boise, Idaho, that eventually went bankrupt” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/13).
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