Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez and former Walmart e-commerce chief Marc Lore have signed a letter of intent to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves from the National Basketball Association, a franchise spokeswoman said Saturday.
Under the terms of the deal, Rodriguez and Lore will initially take a minority stake in the Timberwolves and their sister franchise in the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Lynx, the spokeswoman said.
The deal values the Timberwolves and the Lynx at $ 1.5 billion and the buyers could be in control of the majority in about two and a half years, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The sale is the latest in a string of high-profile transactions involving major professional sports clubs in the US as valuations have risen from millions to billions of dollars in recent years, well above traditional investment benchmarks like the S&P 500.
In the past year alone, the New York Mets of baseball was sold to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen for $ 2.45 billion, and the NBA’s Utah Jazz sold to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith for more than $ 1.6 billion.
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Best known for his 12 seasons as the New York Yankee, Rodriguez was among the star-studded bidders for the Mets in a glitzy auction last summer, eventually losing to Cohen. Lore, a serial entrepreneur who left Walmart this year, founded Jet.com, which he sold to the retail company for $ 3.3 billion in 2016.
In a joint statement, Rodriguez and Lore said they were looking forward to working with current Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and “were excited about the prospect of getting to know the Timberwolves organization, the talented team and their incredible fans”.
Taylor bought the Timberwolves in 1994 for about $ 90 million, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He announced that he was investigating a possible sale of the franchise last fall, hoping to keep the team in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves almost moved to New Orleans before they were sold to Taylor. The team has never won a league championship, but has played nine playoff games, most recently in 2018.
The Minnesota Lynx have won four league championships, the last in 2017.