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Insane cash splashed: The 10 most recent US sporting teams that got sold

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US sports ownership, mark cuban, nba, nfl, mlb

Mark Cuban has become the latest franchise owner in US sports to hand over control of a major team, after selling a majority stake of the Dallas Mavericks for a reported $3.5 billion.

It becomes the second NBA franchise to undergo an ownership change in 2023, after the Phoenix Suns were bought for $4 billion dollars by the Ishbia brothers in February.

For previous owners, Mark Cuban being the most recent case, it’s a bitter sweet moment — leaving behind a sports franchise you cared for, while also receiving the biggest pay-day of your life.

Cuban’s been the most recognisable American sports franchise owner since he took over the Mavericks in 2000, due to his appearances on TV shows such as Shark Tank — a business reality series.

Remarkably, he bought the franchise for just $280 million — that’s quite a bit of growth. In the 23 years he’s owned the Mavs, the value has risen some $3.47 billion.

The team celebrated the 2011 NBA championship under his rule. It was Dirk Nowitzki spearheading the side to championship glory and now it’s another European star as face of the franchise; Luka Doncic.

Luka Doncic, american sports, ownership
Luka Doncic | The Mavericks are the latest American sports franchise to change ownership

It’s an all-too a familiar story in major sports; NFL, MLB and NBA owners of our generation have built franchises into powerhouses and flipped them for mind-numbing coin.

So with Cuban leaving his post at the Mavericks, it’s time to have a look across the American landscape at the most recent ownership changes.

The 10 most recent US sports ownership changes

Dallas Mavericks – November, 2023* (NBA)

Sale price: $3.5 billion

(This is still yet to be confirmed by the NBA)

As of late-November, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has worked on a deal to sell the majority stake of the franchise, with a reported figure of $3.5 billion dollars ($5.2 billion AUD).

During Cuban’s tenure as the owner, the Mavericks won the 2011 NBA championship, along with developing stars such as Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic.

Incredibly, he bought the franchise back in 2000 for just $280 million — which has now been turned into a cool $3.47 billion profit.

Washington Commanders – July, 2023 (NFL)

Sale price: $6 billion (RECORD!)

The Washington Commanders’ deal broke NFL and American sports history for the most expensive sale of a franchise ever.

A group lead by 76ers owner Joe Harris, which also includes NBA legend Magic Johnson, bought the Commanders for a whopping $6 billion.

Previously, it was the 2022 Denver Broncos ownership deal that held the record — then smashed by an incredible $1.4 billion.

Phoenix Suns – February, 2023 (NBA)

Sale price: $4 billion

The Ishbia brothers, led by Mat Ishbia, bought the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) for $4 billion.

It seemed to be a much needed change in Phoenix, with former owner Robert Sarver suspended for one year due to findings of a poor workplace culture and Sarver having conducted himself in an inappropriate manner.

Denver Broncos – June, 2022 (NFL)

Sale price: $4.65 billion

The $4.65 billion dollar deal was once not only the largest in NFL ownership deal in history, but also in US sport history, before the Commanders sale came through a year later.

It’s an ownership group lead by Walmart heir Rob Walton, which also includes Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton.

Utah Jazz – October, 2021 (NBA)

Sale price: $1.66 billion

The operating entity for Utah, the Jazz Basketball Investors, Inc., is made up of many different people, including majority stake holder Ryan Smith, Australian Mike Cannon-Brookes and three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade.

Purchased for not nearly as much as some other recent sporting franchises, roughly $1.66 billion, it adds to Ryan Smith’s empire, as he is also a co-owner of Real Salt Laker soccer club in the MLS.

New York Mets – October, 2020 (MLB)

Sale price: $2 billion

Billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen bought the Mets for $2.4 billion during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, after the Wilpon family had control of the franchise for 34 years.

The sale topped the previous highest baseball team sale which was the Dodgers back in 2012 of a straight $2 billion.

Kansas City Royals – November, 2019 (MLB)

Sale price: $1 billion

American businessman John Sherman bought the Royals back in 2019 for just over $1 billion, after Forbes had ranked the franchise as a low-value baseball team in the States.

Sherman has aspirations of the Royals returning to a contending outfit, as the ball club approaches the 10-year anniversary of their World Series triumph.

Brooklyn Nets – September, 2019 (NBA)

Sale price: $2.35 billion

Prior to 2019, businessman Joe Tsai had a 49% share of the Brooklyn Nets franchise, before coming to an agreement with majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov for full ownership at $2.35 billion.

Under his tenure, Tsai has brought in Hall of Fame talent such as Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. But the star talent has been fleeting and the trophy cabinet, under his reign, remains bare.

kevin durant, brooklyn, nba ownership
Kevin Durant, formerly of the Brooklyn Nets franchise.

Carolina Panthers – May, 2018 (NFL)

Sale price: $2.28 billion

Many NFL ownership changes have cost more than the Panthers’ most recent transition; hedge fund manager David Tepper purchased the franchise for $2.28 billion.

The opportunity to become a team owner became possible after former owner and founder Jerry Richardson was fined nearly $3 million by the NFL for inappropriate misconduct.

Tepper also owns Charlotte FC, the Major League Soccer franchise based in the same city. His time as owner of both organisations have proven to be tougher than he probably envisaged.

Houston Rockets – October, 2017 (NBA)

Sale price: $2.35 billion

Way before the ridiculous figures that have been reported for Mark Cuban selling the Dallas Mavericks, there was the record-setting Rockets deal in 2017 of $2.35 billion — just over half the amount thrown at the Mavs.

Another businessman, Tilman Fertitta, secured the Texan basketball team, after attempting to buy the Houston Texans and Arizona Coyotes previously.

Conclusion

It’s quite evident, as we take a trip down memory lane, that the price of sporting organisations has risen sharply in recent years; they’re proving to be legitimately lucrative endeavours.

Interest from the Middle East in using sporting teams for a variety of reason has certainly impacted the market too.

NFL teams are essentially the holy grail, while roughly a third of the NBA franchises are considered even more prestigious than the rest… but don’t be surprised if we see the value of all of them continue rising. Across American sport’s three largest leagues, there are less than 100 sets of keys.

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