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HomeSportsChernin Group Invests in Youth Sports Venture Unrivaled

Chernin Group Invests in Youth Sports Venture Unrivaled

Longtime sports team owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have been actively investing in youth sports properties over the last two years. Now, the private equity titans are rolling up those assets into a new parent company, Unrivaled Sports.
The formation of Unrivaled includes an investment by Peter Chernin‘s Chernin Group and the hiring of former Nike COO and longtime Disney executive Andy Campion to run the firm.
“Through Unrivaled Sports, we’re not just investing in sports; we’re investing in future generations by making sports more inclusive and accessible in communities across the nation,” Harris said in a statement.
As an investment vehicle, Chernin Group founder Chernin along with Jesse Jacobs and Mike Kerns, has focused on sports, gaming, and health and wellness in its portfolio. Investments have included Action Network, Barstool Sports, Cars & Bids, Oura and the Premier Lacrosse League.
Blitzer says the partnership with TCG and hiring of Campion will allow Unrivaled to expand its infrastructure.
Campion would not comment on terms of TCG’s investment, except to say that the valuation was at a higher level than the cost of the recent acquisitions in youth sports by Harris and Blitzer as a result of the business’ high growth and profitability.
Their first investment was in 2022 with the purchase of youth baseball facility Cooperstown All Star Village for $116 million, and they doubled down on baseball with a majority interest in Ripken Baseball. Other buys included a deal with Olympian Shaun White for action sports brand We Are Camp, which valued the business at $10 million, and an entry into youth football in December via a $10 million majority investment in the ForeverLawn Sports Complex at the Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio.
More than 550,000 athletes and 1.1 million attendees annually visit Unrivaled’s 12 owned and operated facilities.
“The formation of Unrivaled Sports will provide us with even more opportunities to elevate our work in youth sports and allow kids to play in more big-league environments,” Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. said in an email.
Campion was already connected to Blitzer through his minority ownership interest in MLS’ Real Salt Lake and NWSL’s Utah Royals, where Blitzer is the lead owner of both teams. Campion is also on the board of Starbucks, the LA28 Olympic & Paralympic Games and The Springhill Company. He spent the past 17 years at Nike.
“There is almost an insatiable demand for youth sports experiences,” Campion said in a phone interview. “What exists today is a fraction of what we think the potential is.”
Campion sees promise across three dimensions: geographically, sport and gender. He ticks off volleyball, soccer and basketball as options to add to its current lineup of baseball, softball, football and action sports.
The baseball business, which is led by Wade Martin, is East Coast-centric, but it draws teams from all over the country, including 28% of clubs at All Star Village from California. Campion says the West Coast could support a facility and is even looking internationally.
He singled out football as a “huge opportunity” for Unrivaled, and a place that might see “accelerated investment” in 2024. There are not broadly accessible options in flag football, such as those that exist in baseball with Cooperstown and Ripken.
BDT & MSD Partners’ affiliated funds have provided debt financing to Unrivaled.
Harris and Blitzer are the founders of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center, which also has stakes in Joe Gibbs Racing and Elevate. The billionaires have also invested together in Crystal Palace FC and the Washington Commanders, which a Harris-led group paid $6.05 billion for the team in 2023.
Blitzer owns a stake in teams in each of the five major U.S. sports leagues, multiple European soccer clubs and a TGL franchise with Tiger Woods. Yet, at Sportico‘s October Invest in Sports event, when asked where he would invest $500 million today in sports, Blitzer didn’t hesitate: “I’m totally bullish on youth sports.”

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