NLL Chicago Shamrox Ownership Group Selling Franchise
Chicago - In the midst of their second season, the Chicago Shamrox current ownership feels it is time to sell their team. The current investment group that owns the Shamrox says the team is now officially "on the market" having retained sports specialty investment banking firm Park Lane, who will be responsible for seeking potential acquirers. "Our conviction that the sport of lacrosse has only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of participation and passion in Chicago has not waned. We continue to be unanimous in our belief that the City of Chicago can support this franchise and this sport, a notion that was proven last season and this season at the turnstiles. As such, we have decided not to entertain overtures to relocate and are hopeful that we can find a Chicago-based group to continue what we have put our heart and soul into starting. Based on pure geographical, rather than financial issues, we have made the difficult decision to sell our franchise due to the challenges associated with being out-of-town (or absentee) owners," says owner Kevin Loughery, Jr., whose father once coached the Michael Jordan-led Bulls in the early '80's.
Loughery, Jr. added that "the hardest part will be walking away from the upside that is the NLL," whose franchise values have escalated over 1000% in the past 6 years, as evidenced by franchise sales data provided by the League. The National Lacrosse League ("NLL"), previously known as the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, was created in 1987, and is North America's premier professional indoor lacrosse league. The League is ultra fan-friendly and offers an exciting, more affordable sporting event option for families and fans of all ages, relative to the nearby offerings of the NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB teams that share its fanbase. The League has also become a highly sought after property, recently adding a number of national sponsors as well as signing broadcast rights and content distributions deals. In addition, the league is constantly looking for new ways to invigorate its brand, including discussions with major media partners. With no end in sight, now appears to be the optimal time for a savvy sports investor to get involved with the League. Furthermore, Sports Illustrated recently called the sport of lacrosse "the fastest growing sport in America", referring not only to participation, but fan interest.
"As a group we made a concerted effort to make it out to all of the Shamrox home games, yet it was not lost on us that the very next day, each of us always headed back to our respective 'homes' in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Consequently we were not able to give the team the attention it deserves. This team ought to have an ownership group that can run and operate the team from Chicago, leveraging a pool of longstanding Chicago-based relationships. In fact, if we are fortunate enough to find the right partner to take control of the franchise, we would be more than thrilled to be a part of the new group as passive investors, if they will have us," says owner Doug Schaer.
The Shamrox (www.chicagoshamrox.com) currently play their home games at the Sears Centre (www.searscentre.com), a new, state-of-the-art, 11,000-seat multi-purpose family entertainment, cultural and sports center in Hoffman Estates, a northwest suburb of Chicago. While current ownership considers their multi-year lease with the Sears Centre to be quite favorable, more than one potential owner has contemplated moving the team to either The United Center in downtown Chicago or Allstate Arena in Rosemont, although no steps have been taken in this regard.
NLL owners and operators form a diverse, yet exclusive fraternity, including Kroenke Sports, Comcast Spectacor-Global Spectrum, the Phoenix Coyotes, the Minnesota Wild, the Buffalo Sabres, NLL Hall of Famers' Russ Cline and Chris Fritz, Google CMO Tim Armstrong, Stephen Luczo and William Watkins of Seagate Techonology, along with executives from Wall Street-based firms The Blackstone Group and The Galleon Group.
In their first full season in 2007, the Shamrox experienced many of the ups and downs expected of a professional expansion franchise. Nevertheless, management has built the foundation for a team that is expected to both draw and win in the very near future. 26-year sports industry veteran executive Connie Kowal (a Chicago native) has been consistent in his desire to finish what he started as the Shamrox first team president. "We approach our second season with well over 1,000 season ticket holders, a cache of team sponsors, an enthusiastic front office and lacrosse operations staff, a first-rate head coach in Jamie Batley, and a promising core group of players who are signed to multi-year contracts, including two 2007 all-star selections. We are truly on the verge of something special here in Chi-town and we fully expect that the fruits of our labor will result in on-field as well as off-field success in the coming years," says Kowal.
About the NLL: The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is North America's professional indoor lacrosse league, entering its 22nd season and featuring the best lacrosse players in the world. Today's NLL has twelve teams playing in the major markets of the United States and Canada; Boston will join the league as the thirteenth team in 2009. Many NLL clubs are owned and/or operated by the NHL and/or NBA teams in their respective markets, and play in the same arenas used by those teams. NLL teams each play a 16-game regular-season schedule (eight home and eight away) that begins in January and runs through April, followed by the Champion's Cup Playoffs. All games are played on the weekends. The League passed the 1,000,000 mark in total attendance in 2007, averaging almost 11,000 fans per game. For more information, visit www.NLL.com.
About Park Lane: Park Lane is an internationally recognized leader in the sports investment banking marketplace. The Los Angeles based firm offers professional sports franchises, corporations, and high net individuals, corporate finance and M&A advisory services.
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