Team players: Meet the newest investors backing the L.A. Dodgers and Charlotte Hornets
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Charlotte Hornets reside at opposite ends of the pro sports value spectrum. Both franchises added minority owners in the past two months.
The Dodgers announced that Robert L. Plummer and Alan Smolinisky joined their ownership group on Sept. 19, bringing the total number of partners to nine. That group includes Todd Boehly, Peter Guber, Magic Johnson, Billie Jean King, Ilana Kloss, Robert Patton Jr., and Mark Walter. Forbes values the Dodgers at $3.3 billion, second highest in Major League Baseball behind the New York Yankees ($4.6 billion), and ahead of the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.
The Hornets’ ownership additions, Gabe Plotkin and Daniel Sundheim, were announced on Sept. 14 and confirmed by the NBA’s board of governors two weeks later. Plotkin and Sundheim join a Charlotte minority ownership group that already numbered 15 people, including rapper Nelly. Michael Jordan owns about 90% of the Hornets, after initially buying a 65% stake in 2010. Forbes valued the Hornets at $1.3 billion, the third lowest valuation in the NBA.
Financial terms of the minority investments in the two teams were not disclosed.
Both of the Dodgers’ new owners operate in the real estate development realm. Neither has sports ownership experience but both have professed affinities for the storied baseball franchise.
Jordan’s new minority partners are big hitters in finance. Neither has previous sports ownership experience.
Robert L. Plummer
Plummer told the Belleville News-Democrat (Ill.) that he first became a fan of the Dodgers as a child playing Little League baseball. “My involvement with the club is a dream come true,” he said.
Plummer, 69, founded R.P. Lumber Co. in 1978. The building materials supplier has grown to nearly 70 locations sprinkled throughout Missouri and Illinois. Plummer serves as chairman of TheBANK of Edwardsville and vice chairman of St. Louis-based BJC HealthCare, and he is a board member for several charities.
Smolinisky, 39, is the principal at Conquest Housing, a private investment company focused on real estate, publicly traded securities and other ventures. Smolinisky’s real estate career took off in the mid-2000s when he cornered the market on student housing in neighborhoods surrounding the University of Southern California.
A longtime Dodgers fan, Smolinisky owns a newspaper in Pacific Palisades, Calif., where he resides. He wrote in a recent Time magazine op-ed piece that buying into the Dodgers was a way of honoring his immigrant father’s love of the team and the game.
The 40-year-old Plotkin is a protege of billionaire investor Steve Cohen and his S.A.C. Capital Advisors firm. Plotkin set out on his own in 2014, starting Melvin Capital Management, which now manages over $7 billion in assets. Plotkin reportedly is a disciplined investor who relies heavily on data science and research analysis.
Melvin Capital surged 44% in the first half of 2019 and it topped 40% returns in 2015 and 2017. Plotkin made Forbes’ list of the highest-earning hedge fund managers in 2018.
Sundheim is the 42-year-old founder of D1 Capital Partners, which he launched in July 2018. Sundheim was a talented stock-picker at Viking Global Investors, helping oversee $32 billion in assets, according to news reports. He spent 15 years at Viking before setting out on his own and raising $4 billion to start D1 Capital.
Sundheim was named a money manager to watch in 2019 by Wall Street Journal. An avid art collector, he made Institutional Investor’s “Rich List” in 2015 and 2016 after earning a reported $275 million and $280 million, respectively, those two years.