• Loading stock data...
Friday, June 14, 2024

Chattanooga FC Could Start a New Wave of Sports Team Ownership

chattanooga-fc-ownership

Image via Chattanooga FC

A move by Chattanooga FC could foreshadow a change to the landscape of American sports organization ownership.

Chattanooga FC, a team in the National Premier Soccer League in Tennessee, launched a crowd-funding campaign on WeFunder earlier this month, becoming the first American franchise to offer public ownership shares.

The team’s founding owners had thought about the idea of public ownership since following its second season in 2010, but was only made possible with the passage of the Jobs Act in late 2016 which allowed for crowdfunding in corporations by non-accredited investors.

The team was started by a group of guys who shared a passion of Chattanooga and now they want to attach the team to the community for years to come, said Tim Kelly, one of the founders and current chairman of the board.

“We’re never gonna leave,” Kelly said. “If we’re not going to move, why not latch ourselves to the mast. We’re wedding ourselves to the community in a permanent way.”

Since the team offered their public ownership campaign last Thursday, more than 1,300 people across the U.S. and nearly 10 countries have purchased a piece of the team — at a minimum of $125 a share. The early investors raised more than $350,000 in less than five days. The company’s initial valuation was $2.95 million, according to the WeFunder site.

Supporter shares are capped at 8,000 with an initial $1.07 million goal.

The team’s website cites the Green Bay Packers community ownership as an inspiration, but the model for Chattanooga FC goes well beyond the symbolic structure of the NFL franchise.

READ MORE: RCD Espanyol’s Youth Academy Becomes a Model for US Soccer

Chattanooga’s shareholders are equity owners, with voting rights to appoint a voting member to the board, as well as veto rights. Shareholders also have full liquidation rights.

“Part of it is, it’s a really cool thing to say you’re an owner of a sports team and for Chattanoogans, the ability feels hyperlocal,” Kelly said. “People around the world see how bent the American sports landscape is and like the democratization.”

The soccer team’s commitment to Chattanooga is clear. Kelly said the founders would have been happy with 500 spectators at games. Instead, the first game in 2009 attracted 1,600 fans — in a thunderstorm.

[mc4wp_form id=”8260″]

In Chattanooga FC’s 10 years, the franchise has brought more than 400,000 through the stadium gates, including a single-game amateur soccer record of 18,000 spectators at the 2015 NPSL National Final. Beyond fielding the team, the organization also launched Chattanooga FC Women, Chattanooga FC Academy, Chattanooga FC Foundation, Highland Park Commons, Chattanooga Sports Ministries, and Operation Get Active.

“We didn’t do this to get rich, we did it to enrich the culture of Chattanooga,” Kelly said. “When it started catching on, we thought our supporters, the Chattahooligans, would love [the opportunity for public ownership.]”

READ MORE: Miami Turns to Crowdfunding to Put Finishing Touches on Major Campaign

As professional sports team valuations continue to rise, and owners can seemingly relocate teams when a city doesn’t treat them just right, Chattanooga’s offering could send a signal lower level teams could garner further, and literal, buy-in from communities. Kelly said he’s already received interest from other soccer ownership members in how the process worked.

“We look at this from a world perspective, where teams are rooted in communities,” Kelly said. “Our secondary hope is to serve as an inspiration to stay rooted in a town and a way to raise capital for lower division teams across the country.”

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Jan 13, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; The U.S. Capitol Building is seen on Jan. 13, 2021, one week after it was stormed by a pro-Trump mob while a joint session of Congress was certifying the 2020 election victory of President Elect Joe Biden.

House Committee Sends Bill Banning College Athlete Employment to House Floor

The bill has gone further than any other athlete compensation legislation.
May 10, 2024; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams during a press conference before Chicago Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall.

Caleb Williams Launches Investment Firm Before Signing a Bears Contract

Williams announced 888 Midas for private equity, VC, and real estate deals.
Apr 13, 2024; Hartford, CT, USA; UConn Huskies head coach Dan Hurley greets fans as he arrives at the state capitol before the teams victory parade.

The Many Beneficiaries of Dan Hurley’s UConn Career Crisis

His return inadvertently helped the players, athletic department, and perhaps the conference.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How the US Open is Designed for Drama

0:00

Featured Today

Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

Odds Stacked Against NFL in Multibillion-Dollar Sunday Ticket Trial

Why the class action trial does not look promising for the league.
Jan 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (11) takes a three-point shot against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Chase Center.
June 9, 2024

‘Bound to Happen’: The Age of the Sports Betting Scandal Has Arrived

A banishment, betting scheme, and guilty plea all in one scandal-filled span.
June 8, 2024

‘Experimental in Nature’: The Rapid, Confounding Rise of Streaming Bundles

Here’s why confusion continues to outweigh solutions in the streaming package boom.
June 2, 2024

The Nostalgia Market: Michael Jordan’s Memorabilia Remains Coveted, With Caveats

Due to scarcity, and sometimes, items’ undisclosed whereabouts, this world has limitations.

Top Sports Business Jobs This Week (May 2024)

Each week, our staff combs through the thousands of job listings from…
August 10, 2022

PGA Tour Touts Projected Earnings to Keep Players

The PGA Tour is asking its players to consider their potential futures.
October 3, 2022

Real Madrid President Renews Call for Super League

Real Madrid’s president believes that soccer is losing ground.
Sponsored

How HOKA is Reimagining the NIL Relationship

HOKA, the renowned athletic footwear and apparel brand, is betting on a new reality with NIL.
August 10, 2022

Bayern Munich to Make Growth Push in U.S. Market

Bayern Munich is looking to expand its reach in the U.S.
Nintendo-logo
August 3, 2022

Nintendo Profits Underwhelm, Switch Sales Decline

Nintendo failed to meet expectations in the company’s latest earnings report.
manfred_at_microphone
August 19, 2021

MLB Owners Propose $100M Salary Floor

Major League Baseball owners have proposed a $100 million payroll minimum for MLB’s 30 teams and a lower luxury tax threshold.
nfl_logo
July 23, 2021

NFL to Players: Get Vaccinated or Pay the Price

The NFL’s threatening to drop the financial hammer on un-vaccinated players and teams that cause forfeited games in 2021, according to memo.