David Blitzer, part-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, is nearing a deal to acquire a significant minority stake in the Cleveland Guardians, according to multiple people familiar with the negotiations.
Blitzer is in talks to purchase about 35% of the MLB franchise, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the talks are private. The deal also includes a path to control for Blitzer, who would eventually take over from the Dolan family, the team’s current principal owners. His options to take control of the team would come after six and eight years, the people said.
It is a complex negotiation that includes equity from at least two places—the Dolans and current Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman—and talks could still fall apart, the people said. “While I can confirm meaningful discussions with David Blitzer about purchasing a minority ownership interest in the Cleveland Guardians, we can’t comment any further,” said Cleveland Guardians owner, chairman and CEO Paul Dolan.
Blitzer didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
It’s unclear how much Blitzer would pay for the stake. The Guardians were valued at $1.375 billion in Sportico’s most recent valuations, No. 21 of baseball’s 30 teams.
The Guardians would be the latest in an expanding portfolio of sports assets for Blitzer, who is the global head of Blackstone’s tactical opportunities group and a member of the firm’s management committee. He’s a partner in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the holding company that includes the Sixers, the Devils, the Prudential Center and a series of other sports assets. He also owns a handful of European soccer teams, and is part of a group that is currently speaking with MLS about buying Real Salt Lake.
The Guardians, which officially changed their name last month, have been controlled by the Dolan family since 1999, when Larry Dolan purchased the franchise from Dick Jacobs. Paul Dolan, Larry’s son, took over in 2013.
Blitzer would be acquiring portions of the team from the Dolan family and Sherman, a Guardians minority owner who purchased his hometown Royals back in 2019. MLB rules prevent individuals from owning stakes in multiple franchises, so Sherman must unload all of his Guardians equity. Sherman’s stake had included an eventual path to becoming the team’s controlling owner, according to the Kansas City Star.
The Dolans recently hired Allen & Co., the same firm that handled Sherman’s original Cleveland investment in 2016, to explore the sale of some its their own equity. Sherman has hired Inner Circle Sports. A representative for Allen & Co. didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment; Inner Circle declined to comment.
The Guardian haven’t won a World Series since 1948 and have won just three playoff series since 1999. The team averaged 22,008 fans per game in 2019, the last season before the pandemic, which ranked 21st across MLB.
(This article has been updated to include comment from Paul Dolan and further details on Blitzer’s potential path to full control of the team.)