The company has created a new subsidiary, Diamond Baseball Holdings, and said it is in “late stage negotiations with a handful of other significant franchises.” Pat Battle and Peter B. Freund will oversee Diamond Baseball Holdings, Battle as executive chairman and Freund as CEO. Battle is chairman of the board of sports marketing firm Learfield and serves as an advisor to Endeavor across multiple companies. Freund most recently consulted with Major League Baseball on the creation of the MLB Draft League.
The portfolio includes four teams in Triple-A, the highest tier of play: the Iowa Cubs, the Memphis Redbirds, the Gwinnett Stripers and the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders. Other clubs include the Hudson Valley Renegades, a High-A affiliate of the Yankees, and the San Jose Giants, a Single-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Along with the Stripers, three other affiliates of the Atlanta Braves round out the acquisitions: the Mississippi Braves (Double-A), the Rome Braves (High-A) and the Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A).
Major League Baseball recently pared down the number of minor league teams under its aegis, after having to cancel the 2020 season entirely due to Covid. The pullback has prompted concerns in many smaller U.S. cities and among longtime fans of the sport. While MLB came to see diminishing returns in the traditional business of minor-league ball, Endeavor believes there is plenty of upside.
“Opportunities to move into an ownership position of a sport so steeped in history are increasingly rare, and we are confident this will drive meaningful growth in the Owned Sports Properties segment of our company,” Endeavor president Mark Shapiro said. “Just as we’ve done for the UFC, PBR and Euroleague, we see tremendous potential to turbocharge these storied clubs using the scale and capabilities of Endeavor. Our expertise across sponsorship sales, event operations, licensing, marketing and content creation will bring incredible value to these clubs, supporting communities across the country who form the backbone of the Professional Development League system.”
In a joint statement, Battle and Freund said local communities “play an essential role in cultivating America’s favorite pastime.” In running the new Endeavor unit, they added, “We will be global in our ambitions and hyper-local in our approach, and creating incredible fan experiences will remain our number one priority. Additionally, we look forward to providing opportunities for growth to the employees of PDL Clubs whose passion and ingenuity have built the sport through the decades.”
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