Well! What a day — the deal may be done, and Real Salt Lake may finally be out of the purgatory in which we’ve been cast for well over a year.
Dell Loy Hansen said he would be selling Real Salt Lake way back in August 2020 — remember that? It’s been a long time. Since then, we’ve been linked with various ownership groups, and it hasn’t really landed anywhere — until now.
Some of you are probably here to learn who David Blitzer is. Some of you already know, but are curious about who else is involved. Some of you already know everything I’m going to write. I’ll try to at least make it entertaining to read, just for you folks.
Let’s dive into the who’s who here.
Who is David Blitzer?
The new Real Salt Lake owner (er, investor-operator, in MLS terms) and the club’s main representative to the league, according to Sportico reporting today. But he’s a lot more than that.
He’s a long-time executive at Blackstone Group, where he is the Global Head of Tactical Opportunities. (Blackstone Group is not involved in the purchase, or at least there has been no reporting to indicate such.) Blackstone Group, a private equity group with somewhere in the range of $26 billion in assets, has been criticized by the United Nations for heightening the global housing crisis.
He’s also involved in a number of other ownership groups across many sports. Let’s talk about those.
What else does Blitzer own?
There are multiple groups involved here, so let’s start with the soccer-specific holdings.
Through Bolt Football Holdings, Blitzer is part-owner or full-owner of the English club Crystal Palace FC, German club FC Augsburg, Dutch club ADO Den Haag, and Belgian club Waasland-Beveren. Bolt includes on its ownership board Jahm Najafi and Jeff Moorad. There is no indication yet as to whether Bolt is involved in the sale.
With Josh Harris, Blitzer is also a partner in Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, owners of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, alongside other properties. Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment has not been reported to be part of this particular sale. They also hold a small stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Through both Bolt Ventures and Harris Blitzer, he also is a significant investor in Major League Lacrosse.
Blitzer is also rumored to be taking out a minority ownership in the Cleveland Guardians.
What about Najafi and Moorad?
First, note that we don’t yet know if Bolt Football Holdings is involved here, and we don’t know if Najafi and Moorad are involved too.
Jahm Najafi and Jeff Moorad are separately involved in MSP Sports Capital alongside Sharon Hwang. Both are long-time Arizona private equity investors, with Najafi part-owner of the Phoenix Suns and Moorad the former CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres. That group holds a significant stake in McLaren F1 Racing.
Again, to emphasize, we don’t know if there’s any involvement here from Bolt Football Holdings or Bolt Ventures.
Who is Arctos Partners?
Another group indicated in the report from Sportico is Arctos Partners, and I’m not sure I’d heard this one before. Here’s what we know about them, at least from an initial read of the outlay.
- As of yesterday, Arctos became a minority investor in NHL teams Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild.
- They hold a stake in Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group, who also own MLB’s Boston Red Sox and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. They also hold stakes in the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings.
Arctos is comprised of:
- Ian H. Charles, formerly of Landmark Partners and Cogent Partners
- David J. O’Connor, former president and chief executive of the Madison Square Garden Company, owner of the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers
- Chad M. Hutchinson, a former professional athlete, who crossed over from baseball (he played for the St. Louis Cardinals) to football (for the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears), and a former managing director at Sixth Street
- Joseph S. Nasr, former managing director at Stellus Capital Management
- Robyn S. Slutzky, former co-head of private equity due diligence at JPMorgan’s Private Bank
- Jordan L. Solomon, former executive vice president at the Madison Square Garden Company
Who else might be involved?
Great question! We’ve long heard that there will be a local component to ownership of the club. The reporting is not specific on this, and certainly would be detailed in a press release, whenever that comes.