Power Players: Financiers
|Elliott McCabe (left) and Jim Nash
Few conversations start on sports financing without Bank of America’s vaunted Sports Finance and Advisory Group being mentioned. It’s in the mix of the largest transactions, including franchise deals, stadium financing, raising capital, advisory and leaguewide credit facilities across the major leagues.
Charlotte-based Jim Nash and Elliott McCabe founded the group in 1991, and the duo has worked tirelessly to develop relationships at the highest levels of league and team ownership, showing rare longevity and consistency in a space that hasn’t had much of either. A Mississippi native, the affable Nash and his partner McCabe, a former N.C. State football player, are regular fixtures at industry conferences and major sporting events.
As a commercial banker in Charlotte in the mid-90s, Nash began working with George Shinn in his quest to land an NBA team, followed by Jerry Richardson in his pursuit of the Panthers and then financing for Charlotte Motor Speedway. As the bank’s business extended into Florida, Nash and McCabe developed relationships with the Dolphins as they were financing their new stadium and with the Glazer family as they purchased the Buccaneers. As the bank was expanding and public financing of facilities was shrinking, Nash and McCabe sensed a trend and went all in.
The scale of BofA, its high level of relationships and its broad corporate background put Nash and McCabe in a position to lead or co-lead most of their deals. It’s hard to find a major transaction over the last 25 years they haven’t had a hand in — from leading the financing for AT&T Stadium, to the new Busch Stadium, to Levi’s Stadium and to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They represented the Sterlings in their sale of the Clippers and worked with John Henry and Tom Werner on their acquisition of the Red Sox/NESN and Fenway Park in 2002, and Liverpool FC in 2010.
Nash and McCabe will work on anywhere from 15 to 20 sports finance transactions a year, and through up markets or down markets, BofA has consistently supported their efforts, resulting in a significant share and influential voice in the marketplace.
Ask anyone who the leader is in completing complicated stadium financing plans and all would say Greg Carey. A Harvard graduate, Carey sits in the public sector and infrastructure group at Goldman and consistently devises one detailed stadium plan after another.
Carey was at Citigroup for 22 years before joining Goldman in 2004, where he has largely worked on behalf of owners to maximize a return on a facility, while dealing with multiple stakeholders and constituencies to get it done. He also has represented municipalities in their efforts to develop a facility.
Like many others in the financing and M&A space, Goldman Sachs is now tapping overseas opportunities, including work on AS Roma’s planned stadium in Italy.
|Scott Milleisen (left), Tom Cox and Brian Kantarian
Scott Milleisen and Brian Kantarian work closely with major league team owners and are a powerhouse in franchise acquisition financing. Milleisen, the 19-year veteran of the company, is well-spoken, with a quiet, humble style. The Hamilton College graduate is one of the most connected executives to team ownership for his broad perspective of sports finance and the markets.
Six years ago, Milleisen brought on Georgetown and NYU graduate Kantarian as an associate in the private banking group, and the son of sports executive Arlen Kantarian has shown sharp skills in rising to vice president.
Most recently, JPMorgan financed the purchase of a controlling interest in the Seattle Mariners by John Stanton and Chris Larson, and provided financing to the Pegula family for the purchase of the Buffalo Bills at an NFL-record price.
The group is playing a key role in Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke borrowing roughly $1 billion to finance his planned stadium project in Inglewood, Calif. It also has been involved in financing Josh Harris’ ownership of the Philadelphia 76ers. In addition, the New England Patriots, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and Indianapolis Colts are among a roster of 30 major league teams that JPMorgan advises.
Tom Cox is a trusted adviser to each of the five major league offices in the U.S. He raises capital in the bank and bond markets to support league offices, finance over 80 teams through league-sponsored finance programs and fund the NFL’s G-4 stadium finance program.
The three executives also partner with the public and investment grade finance teams to support facility construction. Most recently, JPMorgan helped the U.S. Tennis Association raise capital to fund the ongoing renovation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The group’s years of combined experience at JPMorgan, coupled with the bank’s commitment to serving the market, have made JPMorgan a go-to provider of financing and advisory services in sports. Due to their breadth of expertise, execution and relationships at both the team and league levels, Milleisen, Kantarian and Cox have cemented JPMorgan’s position as an industry leader in sports finance.
U.S. Bank has steadily become a significant player in sports lending under the team of Bill Mulvihill and Steve
|Steve Vogel (left) and Bill Mulvihill
In its hometown of Minneapolis, U.S. Bank led the nine-figure financing to build the Minnesota Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium. It also handled a number of financing efforts for the Minnesota Wild. U.S. Bank played a large role in the financing for SunTrust Park in Atlanta, and was part of the lending syndicate for the financing of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Overall, the group works with more than 30 teams across the five major U.S. sports leagues. Mulvihill and Vogel also oversee U.S. Bank’s league relationships, as part of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB leaguewide credit facilities. Look for the two to try to grow U.S. Bank’s sports practice through lending for MLS and power five college facilities.
|Anthony Di Santi
Anthony Di Santi
Citi Private Bank’s sports finance and advisory unit is a top lender and adviser in sports.
Led by Anthony Di Santi, the group advised Bill Foley on his purchase of the Las Vegas NHL expansion team, which next year will become the first big four sports team to call Vegas home. Di Santi has advised on more than 30 M&A transactions in leagues ranging from the EPL and NBA to NASL.
When it comes to lending, all deals go through Jonathan Farley, and there have been many, including as lead on the NHL’s $1.4 billion credit facility. Citi also has arranged financing for the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Vikings, to name only a few.
Morgan Stanley has long been a significant player in sports finance advisory, with work recently on the sale of Formula One, the reorganization of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ ownership, and in conjunction with Evercore on the sale of IMG to WME.
Randy Campbell leads the Morgan Stanley group, working alongside veteran media bankers Max Herrnstein and John Watson.
A veteran of sports finance, Dorfman has built up SunTrust’s practice since joining the Atlanta-based company from Merrill Lynch five years ago.
Dorfman and SunTrust have been active in their hometown, one of the current hotbeds of sports facility construction, participating in nearly $600 million worth of financing for the Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the Braves’ forthcoming ballpark in Cobb County, Ga., where SunTrust also has the naming rights.