Earlier this year, the Washington Capitals and Wizards became the first teams from the top four U.S. sports leagues to accept investment from a sovereign wealth fund by way of the Qatar Investment Authority’s $200 million purchase of a 5% stake in parent company Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
Now, the teams’ owner is predicting it won’t be the only one of its kind.
“I believe other teams and other leagues will all be embracing pension funds, college endowments, university endowments, and sovereign wealth funds as investors, as a part of the tapestry of their investment base,” Monumental CEO Ted Leonsis told the Washington Post.
Since news of the transaction in June, no other team investments from sovereign wealth funds have been announced, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made it clear that the league is open to similar transactions. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted that the league will be forced to discuss investment from sovereign wealth funds at some point, but said team owners haven’t done so yet.
Leonsis views the QIA more as investors than a traditional limited partner, which he says “expects to get their money back and return in a five-to-seven-year period. A sovereign wealth fund invests directly — they have no time horizon. They want to invest and keep it over a long, long period of time.”
In MLS, NYCFC is owned by City Football Group, which is majority-controlled by an Abu Dhabi Royal Family member. And of course, looming larger by the day is Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is already making waves in the U.S. through its backing of LIV Golf. The PIF-controlled SRJ Sports Investments also has a stake in the U.S.-based Professional Fighters League.