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Volume 24 No. 218
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Leagues Outside Of The Big Four Seeing Success Is Good Sign For The Future

Owners of teams outside the big four pro sports leagues highlighted the success their teams and leagues are having now, and how that bodes well for the future. That is evident in the NLL, which added two expansion teams recently in San Diego and Philadelphia. Speaking at SBJ/SBD’s inaugural Dealmakers in Sports conference, New England Black Wolves co-Owner Mike French said, “We have a low cost of entry, and a lot of our teams make money.” He added, “There’s a lot of markets, a lot of upside, and a lot of potential.” French said a new MLL franchise costs between $3-5M. Meanwhile, Seattle Storm co-Owner Ginny Gilder noted the WNBA is not necessarily looking to expand right now, but would probably charge $8-10M for an expansion fee. That could be a barometer for the N.Y. Liberty, whose owner -- MSG Co. -- recently announced that the team is up for sale. Seven of the WNBA’s teams are independently owned by non-NBA owners, though that number could rise to eight, depending on who buys the Liberty.

OTHER WAYS TO GAUGE HEALTH: Not all of the leagues represented on the panel may be trying to expand, and the owners had other examples that show the health of their teams and leagues. Gilder referenced the WNBA’s three-year deal with Twitter, which will see the social media company live stream 20 WNBA games a year. She said Storm G Jewell Loyd came up with the idea and presented it to the league. Meanwhile, Chuck Greenberg -- who owns three MiLB clubs and is pursuing the Hurricanes -- sung the praises of baseball’s minor leagues. “You’ve got a very stable foundation. You really have to try hard to lose a meaningful amount of money,” Greenberg said. “There are teams that lose a little bit, but it’s really hard to lose a lot because you don’t have any on-field labor costs.” He added, “As the value of Big Four franchises has gone up, there’s just an awful lot of successful, deep-pocketed people who want to be part of owning a non-Big Four team.”