Alibaba (BABA) Executive Vice Chairman, Joe Tsai, has purchased the San Diego based expansion franchise of the National Lacrosse League, set to begin play for the 2018-2019 season, for $5 million. With the expansion, NLL now has teams in 10 cities with the intention of adding a couple of new franchises annually. League attendance surpassed 10,000/game last season (up 12%) and the NLL now has 25,000 subscribers to their digital TV network, launched just 9 months ago. Tsai, a former Yale lacrosse player worth an estimated $11.4 billion, has also expressed interest in purchasing a piece of the Brooklyn Nets.
Howie Long-Short: When guys like Stan Kroenke and Terry Pegula are investing in teams, the league has a future. It is also a lot more affordable than buying an MLS expansion franchise these days ($150 million).
Fan Marino: Did you know that NLL games are played indoors? Unlike collegiate lacrosse that is played on an outdoor field, NLL is played indoors in a rink or “box”. The games are 6 on 6, each teaming having a goalie and 5 “runners”.
Lacrosse League Expands to San Diego With Alibaba Billionaire
Japanese telecom giant Softbank Group Corp (TYO: 9984) has made a $1 billion investment into Fanatics Inc, a leading sports merchandise licensor that handles e-commerce sales for a variety of teams & leagues, including the NFL and MLB. The deal places a $4.5 billion private market valuation on the company. Fanatics sells everything from t-shirts to lawn chairs and has built a burgeoning memorabilia business with the likes of Steph Curry, Ronda Rousey, and Peyton Manning, signed to exclusive contracts. Softbank is looking to compete with the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour within the licensed sports apparel space.
SoftBank to invest $1 billion in sports retailer Fanatics amid aggressive spending spree
Howie Long-Short: Want to invest in Fanatics, but not interested in Softbank? Alibaba (BABA) contributed to a $170 million round in June 2013, at a $3 billion valuation.
Fan Marino: Fanatics is the ONLY place I shop for licensed sports apparel. Just make sure you don’t pay full retail; they are always running 20-30% off sales!