When Will Foreign Ownership of US Sports Teams Start ?

For a while there, it looked like North American sports teams owners were going to take over European Soccer. The biggest Premiere League names were getting bought up. Then a funny thing happened. The US Dollar turned upside down against major currencies making deals that once looked tenable, all of the sudden seem very, very expensive.

But as is the nature of currency exchange, for every Yin, there is a Yang, or in this case an Abramovich or any number of wealthy Europeans or Russians who are coming to the US in search of bargains. Of course there are also the exploding number of Chinese Billionaires with global aspirations as well.

A quick trip to NYC to shop for currency induced bargains need not stop on 5th or Madison Ave. It is just a matter of time, and maybe not much of it, before we start to see our sports teams gobbled up. With the international
flavor of both the NHL and NBA, is there a better way to “mainstream” a person, product or service into the US than through the purchase of a sports franchise ?

With the lack of Salary Cap of MLB, why couldn’t or wouldn’t an ultra Wealthy (as in guys or girls who make me look poor) Sports Fan take advantage of the fall in the value of the dollar and come in and buy an Iconic or even mid market franchise and spend spend spend ?

With the price of NFL franchises now past a billion dollars with half the Dolphins apparently selling for more than 550mm, how many individuals in this country that don’t already own a franchise actually afford to buy an NFL team ? Compared to those who count their wealth in Euros , for whom the price of NFL franchises in their local currency has actually declined ?

I bring this up not only because its an interesting question about the impact of globalization in business, but because it could raise some fascinating cultural questions as well.

It’s going to happen. The money will be too big for a current owner to say no to. The potential thrill of a free spending owner Will be too much for the fan base to say no to, particularly in baseball.

Then what ?

60 thoughts on “When Will Foreign Ownership of US Sports Teams Start ?

  1. Unfortunately in the NBA the concept of foreign ownership did not arrive soon enough for the Seattle Sonics. I really can\’t see an owner who is committed to winning and profitability making decisions on par with the ones made by the current ownership group from Oklahoma City. Obviously, tradition, winning and long-term success are not important to the current Sonics owners (apparently, neither is honesty or integrity).

    From a fan standpoint, I don\’t see foreign ownership as a necessarily bad thing. Look what Roman Abramovich has done with Chelsea FC. The Japanese owners have done a decent job with the Seattle Mariners and Manchester Utd and Liverpool are still doing well (to go back to Premier League examples).

    From an ownership standpoint, the risk that the dollar will continue to devalue compared to major foreign currencies is mitigated by the insane appreciation of team value. Of course, if the dollar rebounds they would stand to make a killing.

    Comment by Aaron -

  2. The Seattle Mariners are owned by Nintendo.

    Comment by habil -

  3. It\’s interesting and strange at the same time that world (Russian, Indian…) billionaiers would invest in football (soccer) clubs in all parts of Europe including Eastern Europe rather than in the USA based Sports club even with $ worth going down lately. It may be that the concept of American professional Sports stayed the same for decades, once successful nowadays is becoming out-dated.

    Comment by Sport -

  4. Nice article, I\’m waiting for another.!

    Comment by rasyid -

  5. I has already begun unless you dont think Canada is a foreign country.
    Peace…Iron Mike

    Comment by Educated Bet -

  6. Foreign ownership may help to expand the audience. The World Series may eventually be the WORLD series.

    gr,
    Micro Krediet

    Comment by Micro Krediet -

  7. interesting post, though nfl and mjb probably are too unfamiliar for european billionaires. because of national traditions i think nhl or nba would be one of the first leagues to go since those sports got strong ties with the russians, because a wealthy russian oligarch is the only kind of person that would be able and willing to do something like buying an american sports team.

    Comment by simon -

  8. Foreign ownership of our sports teams would be fine if in fact it would allow more money to youth sports and toward nurturing a re-interest of kids in the essence of sports and collecting. Mark, are those kids down in dallas running to Upper Deck trading cards http://www.upperdeck.com to capture the best of your mavericks? NO MONEY IS GOING BACK TO YOUTH SPORTS AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION. PHYSICAL EDUCATION IS GONE IN THE UNITED STATES AS WELL. BRING IN FOREIGN OIL MONEY NOW TO BOLSTER youth programs as a part of team ownership, if you wanna play, you had better invest in youth sports, invest in the culture and history of sports in the united states, get kids back into the essence of how you earn jock rash.

    BRIAN THERIOT
    UPPER DECK

    Comment by brian theriot -

  9. \”Could never understand why investors in the US would go and buy the top teams in the PL. Why not invest in a lower division team for 1/4 of the money, buy some top players, win the lower leagues and qualify for the move up to the PL where you will then receive all the TV and sponsorship revenue. After attaining PL status go to the city for partial funding for a new stadium and come out way ahead.\”

    Because that takes too much time and involves too much risk – the Glazers got, in English sports terms a cash cow, so Man Utd fans have the pleasure of paying them to own their club.

    Oh, and if any more American owners come over here, please make sure that they are the good type (e.g. Randy Lerner) and not the bad (as Tom Hicks and George Gillett are finding out now) – if they try to milk fans like you can do in the states it wont work, as Tom and George have found out recently (and as all signs over here point out that this takeover \’negotiations\’ is their last stand)

    Comment by rsub -

  10. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sonics/2004264013_sonics06m.html

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/basketball/353910_arena06x.html

    Mr. Cuban,

    I am a dedicated Sonics fan. I unfortunately moved out of the Seattle area and so I feel like I have no voice in the current Sonics arena issue.

    Myself and the other dedicated Sonics fans know that there is a reasonable solution to this issue but it seems like there is a higher power who is determined to let our team leave our city and state.

    I dont know if you have read the Bill Simmons column on ESPN, but he devoted a 15,000 word article of SuperSonics fan emails regarding this issue.

    Save Our Sonics is doing a tremendous job in trying to drum up support to keep our Sonics in town. Mayor Nickels is determined to keep them here also. KJR, our local sports radio station is behind the idea.

    The above articles detail the preliminary outlines of a plan to refurbish the Key Arena with new ownership. The major players in the Seattle business sector are stepping up to the plate and are offering not only their names, but their money to keep the SuperSonics in town. Even noted opposers of the plan to pay for an new arena do not see an issue with the plan devised.

    We know that there is a board of governers vote coming up. We just want to let you know that there is a plan. The fans are motivated to keep the team in town.

    We love the NBA and all that it offers. Please just give us the opportunity to make it work here in Seattle because we know it will.

    We harken back to our days of GP and the Reign Man where the arena was sold out and the crowds were boisterous. We remember the Western Conference finals against the Jazz where the crowd was soo loud that you could not hear the team introductions. We are here and we are wanting to be heard again.

    Thank you for your time.

    John_S devoted SuperSonics fan.

    Comment by John_S -

  11. Man, speaking of foreign ownership your boy Dirk fucking OWNED that weaksauce Russian the other night. That was MAD GANGSTA SHIT YO!!! JIGGA JIGGA JIGGA WHAT!!!

    Right now you guys are straight up BALLIN!!

    As a Spurs fan, I sure wouldn\’t want to run into the Mavs in the playoffs, no doubt. The way they\’re playin\’, I don\’t think anyone is gonna have to worry about that though ::giggles::

    Totally looking forward to your post in mid-April about how Stern should change the playoff format so the best 16 records get in and not just the best 8 in the West. Promise a brotha you\’ll do this if you can\’t fight off the Suns for the 8 seed, aiiiight?

    I can\’t wait until you buy the Cubs and lead them to the same level of quasi-psedo-Diet Coke level of contention that has been the trademark of your basketball franchise. Because that\’s what the Cubs fans want: To be competitive. They don\’t want to actually win the World Series or anything….

    P.S. Can you even smell the Spurs butts from your place in the standings or are they just too damn far away?

    Comment by Michael -

  12. It\’s already started. Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker, foreigners all, own the Mavericks.

    Comment by Michael -

  13. Who cares ? In Dallas we already have Tom Hicks owning the Liverpool soccer team so who cares….Owners in a lot of sports (including basketball) move teams from city to city like the good little mercenaries they are. Now if somebody would just move the Rangers life would be grand.

    The only thing people care about personally is buying things on the cheap (that gave us wal-mart and the off shoring of jobs that used to be in America) and that the sports teams who they root for to win (And NO we don\’t care about who signs the checks , or where they came from all we care about is the team wins and the paychecks don\’t bounce). Guess to an extent people, players and owners are all little mercenaries.

    Comment by Kris -

  14. Mark- It was okay when Michael Heisley (American) bought the Vancouver Grizzlies (Canada).

    (PS- Mickey Arison\’s Dad was essentially based in Israel when he bought the Heat; see Iglesias as co-owner, Zev Bufman, etc.).

    And, we all came through Ellis Island at one point in time, right?

    Unless you are native american from Pittsburgh?

    Comment by T -

  15. Could never understand why investors in the US would go and buy the top teams in the PL. Why not invest in a lower division team for 1/4 of the money, buy some top players, win the lower leagues and qualify for the move up to the PL where you will then receive all the TV and sponsorship revenue. After attaining PL status go to the city for partial funding for a new stadium and come out way ahead.

    Why not build it from the ground up? It is like buying the Austin Toros for nothing then having them in the NBA in 3 years. Okay, so the NBA is not structured for relegation and promotion the way English football is.

    If you ever want to embark on a new journey please let me know. I\’ll match your money on the partnership.

    Have you seen the debt that Hicks and Glazer carry on their respective clubs?

    About the foreign inverstors coming to the USA, most likely they will stay away because of the same reason you stay away from soccer. Lack of passion!

    It\’s about the journey!

    Comment by Thomas -

  16. In my mind, it won\’t happen. If it does happen, there will be restrictions. If it gets out of control, there will be a salary cap put on baseball. The only reason there isn\’t one right now is because the Yankees and Red Sox are good for baseball (their rivalry and huge market in their areas at least.) Selig wouldn\’t allow some heir prince to buy a team though, that would start the downfall of baseball.

    Comment by Jordan Hagedorn -

  17. It will definatly happen. I really don\’t see how it won\’t start happening. There is much money to be made in sports by an astute business man. This isn\’t even the first time I have heard of this idea. British radioheads and soccer journalist have mentioned this a few times when talking about the problems Hicks and Gillette are having with the ownership of Liverpool in the EPL right now and may be bought out by D.I.C. The fans opinions rarely matter, only money does!

    Comment by Darren -

  18. Mark – your blog is a great read! In any event, you are right on about foreign ownership of sports teams – it will happen.

    The bigger question is the rest of the US – clearly we are the bargain of the century right now to lots of people. Real estate, intelluctual property, public companies – all this is / will be up for grabs.

    While this will be very unnerving to watch, it is essential to allow the free market to work. I wish that I had something of value to sell right now, but for now I will keep shorting the dollar.

    Comment by steve sinwell -

  19. OK, so what\’s this article all about — are you trying to unload the Dallas Mavericks to some unsuspecting foreigner?

    Comment by Harry -

  20. Great entry Mark! On HD.net Dan Rather interviewed Gary Schilling who was a cheif economist for Merrill Lynch who was fired twice for forecasting recessions. He said that we are generally the first country into a recession, and the other countries follow because their growth is tied to our economy. He said the UK is looking like they are going into a recession, and the rest of Europe and Japan will follow. So by using that logic, it\’s the right time to buy when their money is worth more than ours.

    Comment by Matt Steinmetz -

  21. If a wealthy Chinese national wants to put an NBA franchise back in Vancouver, I\’m all for it.

    PS Do you say \”all of the sudden\”? I always thought it was \”all of a sudden\”.

    Comment by GM -

  22. I think that in todays day and age, everything is fair game when it comes to ownership of franchises in sports. While baseball ownership is still a closed society, the NFL is slightly more open now and will have to be in the future due to the shear size and scope an investor have. And, well, the NBA has proved to be the least controlling of all the ownership groups for various reasons.

    You can see with the current situations with various teams, from the Grizzlies to the Hornets (both in Charlotte and New Orleans) and now to the current situation with the Sonics, either NBA management decided to be less controlling or due to circumstances has to be more open. The pure fact that the NBA has set precedent to allow teams to move fairly freely when cities aren\’t accomodating to management needs. The Hornets and Sonics prove that its the wild wild west when it comes to the NBA.

    It is a shame that its come to this – teams vs. fans vs. cities. It really detracts from the product.

    Comment by David -

  23. Did people just wake up today? I mean come on Mark. Maybe you should do a little research first. The Seattle Mariners are already owned by a Japanese Company. So half the posters and mark cuban seem to push for something that has already happened.

    Comment by PJAM3 -

  24. I think the people coming to NYC to shop the dollar are in fact are coming for many reasons other than shopping. You would have to save the cost of a round trip 2-3k, then have it shipped back.

    Comment by pdr tools -

  25. It\’s probably inevitable though the rules are a lot different here than in Europe. The EPL has no salary cap and with the exception of baseball, the wealthiest teams don\’t always win in the US as they do in the rest of the world. A guy like Abramovich can\’t come in and think he\’s just going to throw tons of money into his team and watch it succeed.

    Still, it will happen and like anything else, some will succeed and others will fail miserably. Where I think you\’ll see the change though, is in European soccer. You may ultimately see salary caps, a level playing field for all the teams and the elimination of the lower divisions — all thanks to their owners becoming more \’Americanized\’ and thinking in terms of luxury suites, corporate sponsorships and catering mainly to the wealthy.

    That frankly is the part of American sports that really sucks nowadays.

    Comment by scotbo -

  26. Hey, capitalizm rulez. If other people want to buy our sports teams, maybe they can do more to put money into the local economy too. No more subsidized stadiums. Maybe they\’ll work harder to attract fans and not be so arrogent. My 2 cents. Fred

    Comment by Fred Malek -

  27. If the MLB ownership group would block YOU from buying the Cubs, I\’m sure they would block a freewheeling oil sheak (or whatever) as well.

    Comment by Brad Russell -

  28. Mark, how funny ? Premiership league and European Club Cup contender Liverpool\’s fans are trying to launch a member share scheme to buy their club…

    http://in.reuters.com/article/soccer/idINL3111236020080131

    Comment by xXx -

  29. I think in the new world economy we will see the boundaries of ownership moving along with the rise and fall of economies. When you see the wealth, especially overseas like dubai and abu dabi. They could easily pay any price for a team and I would actually welcome the open business….as long as their markets are always open to us. I think as with everything there will be pockets of resistance here in the US with certain sports franchises.

    Love your blog.

    Comment by Mark Ferguson -

  30. I think we will see Foreign ownership in the NBA, NFL and MLB in the very near future. There has been some talk of the NBA expanding in a couple of years and that\’s where we may see this happen.

    Comment by kelly -

  31. I think foreign ownership is a natural progression in professional
    sports using the premier league as an example. With the influx in
    foreign players that came to the league the quality of the league
    improved and then foreign ownership came along with it. Chelsea is
    the most recent example where they bought players creating a roster
    where often the third choice player could start for many other clubs.
    Although it did work for Chelsea in winning titles they still had a
    core of talented English players and the top clubs like Manchester
    United and Arsenal continue to have a solid mix of talent from home
    and abroad. I also think that the premier league now has a distinct
    heirachy where only a few teams can realistically compete for a title
    due to financial reasons. Part of the interest this year is that there
    seem to be several contenders for the NBA title, and no clear cut
    favourites and so I wouldn\’t want that dynamic to be upset. I think
    it is a logical step with the current state of the dollar however the
    NBA\’s possible European and global expansion may hinder those aspiring
    buyers who may wait to purchase a club in their home country. Without
    salary caps MLB may be the most intriguing option but a collection of individual talent with the Yankees doesnt seem to be working. With the failure of NFL Europe I\’m unsure of true interest from back home in Europe. I think Barclays Bank\’s purchase of the Nets Stadium in
    Brooklyn is a sign of foreign investment to come but I think there has to be more than money behind the decision to buy for it to be a success both as a business and as a team.

    Comment by Nick -

  32. I think foreign ownership is a natural progression in professional sports using the premier league as an example. With the influx in foreign players that came to the league the quality of the league improved and then foreign ownership came along with it. Chelsea is the most recent example where they bought players creating a roster where often the third choice player could start for many other clubs. Although it did work for Chelsea in winning titles they still had a core of talented English players and the top clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal continue to have a solid mix of talent from home and abroad. I also think that the premier league now has a distinct heirachy where only a few teams can realistically compete for a title due to financial reasons. Part of the interest this year is that there seem to be several contenders for the NBA title, and no clear cut favourites and so I wouldn\’t want that dynamic to be upset. I think it is a logical step with the current state of the dollar however the NBA\’s possible European and global expansion may hinder those aspiring buyers who may wait to purchase a club in their home country. Without salary caps the NFL may be the most intriguing option but with the failure of NFL Europe I\’m unsure of true interest from back home in Europe. I think Barclays Bank\’s purchase of the Nets Stadium in Brooklyn is a sign of foreign investment to come but I think there has to be more than money behind the decision to buy for it to be a success.

    Comment by Nick -

  33. I think that Foreign Ownership of US Sports Teams is likely happen for professional baseball and basketball teams. Football is a possibility too.

    Comment by Laura -

  34. It will never happen because the owners group (at least for NLB and NFL anyway) will never let it happen. Case in point: Boston Red Sox. MLB awarded the team to John Henry\’s group despite the fact that the group lead by Chuck Dolan was willing to pay upwards of $100mm more for the Red Sox. Why? Because MLB does not want to risk an ownership group coming in an upsetting the apple cart as it were. Hate to say it Mark, but its the same reason why there is no chance in hell that MLB will ever let you buy the Cubs–even if you were willing to pay 10\’s of millions more for the team. Bottom line: the good old boy MLB and NFL network will never accept an ownership group–no matter how much money is on the line–that they deem a threat to their business model.

    Comment by Joe Ogrady -

  35. Insightful comments. I always enjoy reading your take,

    On the subject of a poor US dollar, if it continues to decline, what about American NBA players taking off to make better money in Europe? Is that at all possible?

    What about European basketball players that would rather make big money in Europe and not have to deal with US tax laws?

    An extremely weak US dollar will change the NBA. Why would a Spaniard go play in some backwater US city when they could play in a top flight city like Barcelona, assuming the money is equal?

    Comment by Mike -

  36. Mark, likely to only happen for NBA or possibly NHL. How many uber-wealthy sports fans outside of the US really care about \”American\” Football or Baseball?

    Comment by Ziegler -

  37. It`s only inevitable if the U.S. does not exercise some form of protectionism, which would be terrible for this economy. We need those foreign dollars to come back. Congress has already blocked the Chinese government from buying General Motors. What ever happened to Laissez Faire economics? Isn`t that what made this country great?

    Comment by goedkoop lenen -

  38. The Expos have been foreign-owned for nearly 40 years, if I\’m not mistaken.

    Comment by Harl Delos -

  39. Given the substantial investments made by government sovereign funds like the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in US companies like Citigroup, foreign ownership of sports teams is inevitable. And maybe its not such a bad thing. Look at some of the idiots (David Glass) that own baseball teams. I think the foreign ownership might be smarter owners.

    Which leads me to my plea to MLB to allow you to buy the Cubs. That unrepentant piece of jackal slime known as Sam Zell is going to ruin the team!

    Comment by Mike Boland -

  40. The Federal Reserve is a private company accountable to no one. No, they are not part of the US government.

    The Fed is flooding the world market with dollars that are not backed by any hard asset with any intrinsic value (i.e., a fiat currency). Thus, the value of the dollar is crashing and sports teams will be gobbled up by countries with stronger currencies. Just as American\’s savings will be gobbled up by inflation.

    Don\’t believe we have inflation? Research how the method for computing the CPI has been adulterated since the early 80s. The computing and reporting of the CPI is one of the greatest governmental frauds ever committed.

    The old communist saying \”bread and circus\” refers to what\’s required to placate masses. In modern American terms, that\’s a $4.50 Super-sized Value Meal and pro sports.

    If only American\’s cared as much about what they\’re elected officials are doing to their country (i.e., ignoring the Constitution) as they do about \”their\” sports teams…

    Mark, how about a HDNet/Dan Rather investigation into our Federal Reserve system?

    Comment by Jim -

  41. Wow this is crazy I just came on your blog for the first time and read this; I am really impressed! I mean I knew you clearly are very smart because of your wealth/ business game, but I think you hit the nail right on the head and at a critical point in the foreign exchange market. Right before the US doller dropped, rich foreigners were buying teams in EPL like nothing!

    Man U, Chealsea, and Liverpool all got taken over and Arsenal is possibly next (most likely by by Stan Kroenke, and David Dein who was smart and sold his shares to Red & White corp. and now is chairman of Securities !! )

    But since the ecomony in the US is extremely volatile that makes the owners regret their decisions now in the fragile market and the opposite is going to happen. They will come here and buy our teams.

    But that\’s the thing no one knows what will happen in the market as a result of our government changing so soon. So it depends if the US dollar will increase over the next few years or not, depending on our foreign policy (By the way I am a Ron Paul supporter because he has the absolute best Foreign Policy out of all the candidates left, McCain will definitely make the foreigners take advantage of the possible cheap and worthy expansion of their market into ours (100 year war, continuous printing off money in the FR system which drives the dollar down). And US owners will lose. Or we get a good new president with sound policies to make the dollar rise and US owners will win. It\’s really unknown at this point, which is why you brought up something I have been thinking about since the \”recession\” was starting (which we all saw coming anyway due to the incompetent government fighting a pointless ridiculous winless war and borrowing money from places like China and spending $ it doesn\’t have.)

    I guess we have to hope for a good new president, see this is why politics are important to people with money, because it involves them directly, the rest of us lower middle class folks are screwed either way, the rich never are!

    I am so happy you talked about this you read my mind especially since I haven\’t heard anyone talk about it (well I guess all the NBA/NFL owners are talking about it but we just don\’t know), you are like the people\’s owner I swear you are not too arrogant or snobby to get down on regular folk level. ! That is very cool, PS I loved you on DWTS, you were way better than Floyd !! Oh and your team played very well tonight as opposed to last night\’s huge upset (what did you think of Avery\’s last few minute decisions?) I mean he benched Kidd because he wanted someone he could count on that he knows for a fact can make the plays but look at the way it motivated Kidd for tonight, almost a trip-double! If this keeps up you guys are big contenders this year and great trade you ended up making. Your record so far is still very good so we will see what happens, I can\’t what for the Western Conf. playoffs it\’s going to be nuts!

    I AM SO GLAD THE LAKERS FINALLY LOST TONIGHT! BRANDON ROY IS SICK! SO IS CHRIS PAUL THOUGH. ANYWAYS TAKE CARE, I KNOW I\’LL SEE YOU ON THE TV SCREEN DURING THE PLAYOFFS! LOL

    Comment by C -

  42. Well, I think if this ever happens, it should at least free our city governments from having to foot the bill for our stadiums, and sports arenas; freeing plenty of city funds to be spent on education and city hosted parks and recreation for our children; keeping our children out of trouble with the gangs and into a position to be able to compete with the same investor who just bought our sports team. I rather sell them a sports team, than a U.S. shipping port!

    Comment by Mitchell -

  43. Hey Mark, Not if, when, maybe a few have ghosts owners now. Stocks,business ventures with owners, etc. The guys with money coming out of the ground in the middle will be here soon if not already. They give Tiger Woods THREE MILLION dollars for just appearing in Dubai. The first place prize is just under a million.Go figure. A company from the UAE, United Arab Emirates for those who dont watch who are really calling the shots, recently tried to get the contracts to run our security for quite a few of our major ports. Point? This country with its shrinking dollar is looking like a ripe apple within easy reach of a hungry horse and pro sports is a nice place to start to get to know people that you can be BS\’d more into selling more of our country. Lets not kid ourselfs. If the money is right big business will sell this COUNTRY out from under us. Not if, just when? Thanks for the thoughts

    Comment by Frankie from Lawnside -

  44. 550 m for the DOLPHINS??? When was the last time that team had a sell out on tickets? I think it is ridiculous how much franchises go for in general and you hit a big issue with the business globalization. That specifically is going to be the big talk from now on. I wanted to point out that you forgot to mention India and thier identical logic of buying into America. Our dollar is beyond weak and just this past month, 1 Canadian dollar equaled 1 US dollar…I mean honestly. I need to move to the UK and work for 2 years and come back here doubled up in income.

    Comment by David -

  45. I think I\’d wait and see how the steroid situations (past and future) work themselves out the next few years before I\’d speculate on the worth of a company…and future purchases.
    An investor could get a better deal then they think!
    lol..really

    Comment by xxx -

  46. Once again, Cuban is as foresightful as ever. Howevever, this time the outcome is dark indeed.

    Because there are no quick fixes or human geniuses that can make the debt-bloated pig (USA) fly. Battered equity markets, rising unemployment, a diving dollar, $100 per barrel oil, soaring commodity prices, plummeting real estate values, record home foreclosures, slumping retail sales, crumbling consumer confidence, a credit crunch, the subprime crisis, write-offs and write-downs….the data doesn\’t lie. Banks, brokerages, and bond insurers begging for bailouts and pleading for cash. SIVs, CDOs, ARSs VRDNs, hedge fund operators, derivative players, buyout specialists … an alphabet soup of exotic problems. Sports franchises are not immune. As America downsizes during the next decade, sports franchises will be valued at less than their present value. Just like our nation\’s largest bank (Citibank) issuing junk debt to Abu Dhabi because the bank is technically insolvent, sports franchises will be bought at a fraction of today\’s price.

    America is broke. Although my post is sure to aggravate the pipe-dreamers, readers with thick cerebellums understand the severity of America\’s situation.

    Comment by Kevin -

  47. Foreign ownership may help to expand the audience. The World Series may eventually be the WORLD series.

    Comment by John -

  48. Contrary to some of the other opinions on this board, I can\’t think of a sport more attractive to overseas tycoons than the NFL. It is, like the Premier League, a truly global-reaching entity. It has no competition and a manageable number of games for owners to attend. The \”London Experiment\” for the NFL would not be getting the juice it does if a market and interest pocket did not exist.

    I also thinks that if there is an allure to American sports — how could baseball be passed up?

    Needless to say, as the economy globalizes anyone who things the US sports market doesn\’t is probably thinking with their heart vs. their head.

    Comment by Scott -

  49. Totally off topic, Mark, did you get a facelift? Man, your face looks like 10 years younger last night on TV. Can you give us a referral?

    Comment by JC -

  50. It`s only inevitable if the U.S. does not exercise some form of protectionism, which would be terrible for this economy. We need those foreign dollars to come back. Congress has already blocked the Chinese government from buying General Motors. What ever happened to Laissez Faire economics? Isn`t that what made this country great?

    Comment by Gregory Rueda -

  51. The problem is that ultra-wealthy non-Americans have little interest or exposure to American football or baseball. Abramovich and other Russians have bought into England\’s Premier League because they love soccer first, and because of the other opportunities second. Ditto for Thailand\’s Thaksin Shinawatra, who bought Manchester City FC.

    It\’s conceivable that there\’s a Russian or Chinese billionaire basketball fan out there, and very possible there\’s a Russian billionaire hockey fan. I can\’t see the other sports attracting foreign interest, whatever the opportunities.

    Comment by Lance Knobel -

  52. \”as in guys or girls who make me look poor\”

    It\’s interesting how everything is relative. You make THOSE NHL stars look poor: http://www.hockeyzoneplus.com/blog/2008/01/fortune-accumulated-by-2008-nhl-all.htm

    Comment by Bob -

  53. Where the owner is from has little influence on the team he or she owns. It\’s all about the commitment (financial and otherwise) that the owner chooses to make to the team. Fans react to an owner that is in it to win it and does whatever it takes to produce a winner. It doesn\’t matter where that person comes from. So when the potential foreign owners start showing up, as long as their pockets are deep enough, the fans won\’t be able to resist. On another note, no J-Kidd in the final 30 seconds of a \”playoff atmosphere\” game. That doesn\’t seem to jive with the logic behind the extra millions invested to get that trade done. What\’s the deal with that?

    Comment by Jon G. -

  54. The Seattle Mariners are owned by Nintendo.

    Comment by Matt W. -

  55. The big question is how long before their professional leagues start buying up our best players? Will hockey players defect back to Russia to play for more rubles? Will European basketball players go home to play for more euros? Will NFL stars work north of the border for more in the CFL?

    Comment by Rich -

  56. Fans care about:
    1) Winning
    2) Winning with style

    7) Fair play/Steroids/HGH
    8) Whether their $ goes into the pockets of a Chinese or Russian owner/corporation vs. a domestic one.

    You\’re going to tell me that Twins fans would rather Carl Pohlad keep slogging along vs have an \”Abramovich\” come in and sign Santana and Hunter to 6 yr deals. No way.

    Bit of a tangent: American sports fans would much rather have a charismatic individual owner, foreign or domestic, than a domestic corporate board handling their team. That\’s not a suck up to you Mark with respect to the Cubbies – but a truism accross the board in any sport.

    Comment by Jeff K -

  57. What\’s up? Sam Zell doesnt make himself look bad enough, you want to entice some oil sheik to come in and buy the Cubs so the entire Midwest can really hate Mr. Zell?? Great idea really, after all the fans stop going to AliBabaBinLadan Field (formally Wrigley) you can come in and pick it up for a song, or maybe a HD movie.

    Comment by Northern Indiana Real Estate -

  58. The Toronto Blue Jays were owned by Belgian beer giant Interbrew for a time – and there was a perception from the fans that this foreign conglomerate lacked any real interest in spending to win. The Jays were simply a line item on a balance sheet…

    Comment by Rick -

  59. Well I can think of two (minor) examples of this already happening in the MLS with the Red Bulls and Chivas teams. In a way, buying a (real) football team probably makes the most sense culturally, if you are a foreigner trying to break into the US sports market. Not sure what impact (if any) is due to the small footprint of MLS, low cost of entry (compared to other US sports) and their unique ownership structure of the league.

    Comment by daniel -

  60. While I\’m sure there would be some initial resistance, if a wealthy foreign interest committed to building a new stadium and spending loads of money, I think it would eventually happen, but probably not in the NFL. NBA would be most likely IMO. This whole situation is kind of like Toyota getting into NASCAR. A lot of people got angry at first but then it was quickly accepted.

    Comment by Mike -

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