Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt acquired a 50 percent stake in Longines Global Champions Tour. McCourt and Tour founder Jan Tops, both made statements regarding, what will be considered by many, big news for the Longines Global Champions Tour as a prestigious international tour and for equestrian sport at large.
“You know what happened with the Dodgers,” said McCourt, who in 2012 sold the Major League Baseball team for a record $2.15 billion to a group that includes executives from Guggenheim Partners. “We took a franchise losing almost $60 million per year and ended up selling it for the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise. We created value there and we plan to do the same thing here.”
Dale Harvey, general manager of West Palms Event Management in California, a producer of top equestrian events, said in an e-mail that McCourt is buying into what has become “the most prestigious” show jumping in the world.
This year’s tour stops include Paris, Shanghai, Antwerp, London, Doha, Cannes and Madrid. Riders will compete for more than $12 million, the most for any series in the sport.
“Working together with McCourt Global, we will innovate to bring our Tour and the sport of show jumping to new audiences, new markets and new heights,” Tops, who founded the Tour in 2006, said in a statement.
The 60-year-old McCourt said he plans to bolster the Tour’s sponsor base by expanding to undisclosed locales in the U.S. and growing its footprint in Asia and the Middle East.
“The sport is a natural in terms of reaching out to very large international companies that are looking to reach our expanding audience,” McCourt said. “There’s a lot of opportunity to introduce the sport to a multitude of fans.”
McCourt last year gave $100 million to his alma mater, Georgetown University, the largest gift in its history, to endow a new school for public policy. The real estate developer owned the Dodgers from 2004 to 2012, when the club was sold following almost a year in bankruptcy.
“I love sports,” McCourt said, adding that show jumping should appeal to television and digital media executives. “This sport is very telegenic. There’s more we can do to bring the beauty, the difficulty, the risk, the athleticism and the excitement of the sport to fans.”
Source: Bloomberg News