SBD/March 19, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL, Providence Equity Partners Team To Invest $300M In Start-Ups

The NFL is “teaming up with private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners in a search for ventures the two entities can jointly invest in,” according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. While the NFL and Providence have “yet to specify investments," they plan to have about $300M available to "invest in start-ups that work within sports, media and technology.” The partnership comes “15 months after NFL owners approved" the formation of a $32M strategic investment fund. League execs said that they “needed a partner that could both provide an entrée into flow of private-equity opportunities and figure out how the NFL might leverage its sought-after content.” Providence Senior Managing Dir Paul Salem said that the company and the NFL “foresee spreading the funds across several different investments, targeting companies" with a need for $25-50M in exchange for "significant equity.” Providence last year invested $150M for a minority interest in MLS' Soccer United Marketing (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/19).

HOT TOPICS: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on a number of different topics yesterday at the owners meeting in Phoenix. He confirmed that the NFL “is working on a new league calendar which could push back" the start of free agency. Goodell said, "We presented an alternative calendar for the offseason. We think that it makes a lot of sense. I think the players saw the benefits of doing that and they wanted to talk to their membership, which they were doing last week at their meeting." NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal noted the idea is “to spread out the NFL's offseason events, perhaps pushing back the NFL Scouting Combine and free agency a few weeks.” Free agency could “wind up starting in April,” and the change “sounds inevitable” (NFL.com, 3/18). Meanwhile, Goodell also appeared to indicate that the effort put forth by players in the recent Pro Bowl might be enough to save the game. “Clearly there was an improved effort,” Goodell said of the game, which has been marred in past years by half-hearted play. “I have also had conversations with the players and so have our staff. They have also met with the Competition Committee last month to talk about what we can do to make the game more attractive, more exciting and more competitive. There are some very good ideas” (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer). In addition, Goodell said expanding the playoff field from six teams in each conference “clearly won’t be happening for this year.” But in Boston, Greg Bedard writes the idea “is still being looked at” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).
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