SBJ/Oct. 6-12, 2014/Labor and Agents

Oil executive launches sports agency

An oil company entrepreneur has launched a sports agency focused on representing baseball players and MMA fighters.

James Ballengee formed The Ballengee Group earlier this year, and in the last few months the agency has hired baseball agents and attorneys who formerly worked at CSE, Perennial Sports & Entertainment and MVP Sports Group.

The sports agency business is in a state of consolidation, and the creation of the Ballengee Group, which is based in Dallas, with offices in Los Angeles and Atlanta, is the latest example of the trend.

The baseball agents who joined Ballengee Group include Jeff Randazzo and Scott Lonergan, formerly of MVP; Scott Barber, formerly of CSE; and Michael Sanders, formerly of Perennial. Additionally, agent Lloyd Pierson and attorney Dan Kaufman, who also both formerly worked at Perennial, have joined Ballengee Group.

BALLENGEE
Todd Krumholz, an attorney who formerly worked at Genesco Sports Enterprises and was most recently at JTK Talent, his own firm, has also joined Ballengee as director of corporate marketing.

“We currently have a stable of minor league and major league clients that would make us a small to midsized firm right now,” Barber said. But he declined to say how many players the firm had agreements to represent or name any of them, saying that the players were in transition.

Ballengee Group also represents brother MMA fighters Nick and Nate Diaz. Pierson is their primary agent. Ballengee recently negotiated a deal for Nick Diaz to fight Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champion Anderson Silva in Las Vegas on Jan. 31, during Super Bowl weekend.

“Right now our primary focus is baseball and we have a small niche within MMA, however we are not opposed to getting into other areas as long as it’s the right fit for who we are as an agency,” Ballengee wrote in an email.

Ballengee is the chief marketing officer and one of the founders of oil transportation and logistics company Bridger, which was ranked this year as one of the fastest-growing companies in America by Inc. magazine with 2013 revenue of $3.487 billion.

Ballengee said friendships with professional athletes led him to launch an agency. “Throughout my life I’ve gotten to be friends with many professional athletes who gave me very unfiltered perspectives about what their personal and business experiences have been like,” he wrote. “I never really planned to get into the agency business. However, when I realized this was an area where I could make an immediate and relevant impact, I decided it was a worthwhile endeavor.”

Asked whether the firm might expand into other sports, Ballengee said he would always look at other opportunities, “but we won’t grow for the sake of growth.”

Ballengee is overseeing the hiring of agents, with assistance from Pierson and Barber. Other baseball agents may be added to the firm in the coming months, they said.

Pierson, Kaufman and Sanders joined Ballengee Group in April. All formerly worked at Perennial Sports & Entertainment. Kaufman and Sanders left in August of last year. Pierson left Perennial in February 2010 and was working at his own firm, Pierson Sports Management, before joining Ballengee Group as managing principal. Perennial Sports & Entertainment declined to comment for this story.

Barber worked at CSE and joined Ballengee Group in June. CSE declined comment for this story. Randazzo and Lonergan left MVP Sports last month for Ballengee Group.

The parting was amicable, said Dan Lozano, MVP Sports Group CEO and founder. “I also made it clear to them that I had no issue whatsoever if any of their clients chose to go with them. They are great guys with bright futures and I truly wish them nothing but the best.”

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