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Volume 25 No. 28

Finance

On Location Experiences, the NFL’s official premium hospitality firm, has acquired PrimeSport’s massive business that includes hospitality and ticket exchange rights to an array of events ranging from the Final Four to CFP games and several pro sports. On Location has largely built its business by cornering the market on Super Bowl hospitality and parties, but the deal with PrimeSport will significantly broaden OLE’s reach across sports and entertainment. On Location now touts the rights to 150 teams, leagues and events, including the Ryder Cup, Daytona 500 and multiple music festivals. Through the arrangement, Carlyle Group, which previously had a controlling stake in PrimeSport, will take on a minority share of On Location. OLE’s ownership will now include RedBird Capital, Bruin Sports Capital, 32 Equity and Carlyle. For now, PrimeSport will continue operating under its current name as a division within OLE, but PrimeSport CEO Tim Brosnan has departed. OLE CEO John Collins engineered the deal with Paul Hastings serving as legal counsel. Kirkland & Ellis was PrimeSport’s counsel. Collins said On Location’s backing positions the company well to continue growing its array of services. “The PrimeSport acquisition provides scale for our offerings and capabilities,” Collins said. With the addition of PrimeSport, OLE now has more than 500 employees in nine offices.

Toronto-based private equity firm Onex Corp. said that it has "agreed to acquire" SMG Holdings, which manages "nearly 240 venues" for sports, entertainment and business including Soldier Field, according to the CP. Onex "didn't disclose how much it will pay," but the deal is "expected to close" in early '18 (CP, 12/11). TICKET NEWS' Katie Gainer noted a potential purchase by Live Nation was "speculated last month." Combined, Live Nation and SMG's venue and ticketing holdings "would have dwarfed all potential competitors, which would include AEG, Spectra, OVG Facilities and VenueWorks." However, if Live Nation’s bid were accepted, it would have "needed approval by regulatory agencies in several countries, similar to when the company purchased Ticketmaster a few years back, and many questioned whether such a monopolizing deal would have passed" (TICKETNEWS.com, 12/11). AMPLIFY's Dave Brooks noted since '07, SMG has been "owned by private equity firm American Capital." In '16, American Capital "was purchased" by L.A.-based asset management company Ares in a $3.2B cash and stock deal. SMG "holds the management contracts for marquee buildings" like U.S. Bank Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Superdome (AMPTHEMAG.com, 12/11).

Topgolf co-Chair & CEO Erik Anderson said the private company definitely fits the "criteria to be a public company” and, noting a '16 investment by Providence Equity Partners, added Topgolf is looking at that "as an option" at some point. Appearing on CNBC’s “Mad Money,” Anderson said about half of Topgolf's business "is the golf entertainment game, about half food-and-beverage and we've got about 35% women, so it appeals to everybody.” Topgolf is in the process of opening its 38th venue, and Anderson said he thinks there will eventually be "at least 100" in the U.S. and "another 100 or 200 around the world." Anderson: “We're seeing kids show up now and we've got great instruction programs and it's a lot of fun.” Anderson said of the state of golf, “It's stabilizing and we're seeing real growth again. ... If you count our activity, golf actually has grown so I think it's just expanding the audience and how people get to it” (“Mad Money,” CNBC, 12/11).