A group that includes David Blitzer, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, is nearing a deal to purchase MLS club Real Salt Lake, according to multiple people familiar with the negotiations.
An agreement has been reached on key terms, but nothing has been signed, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the talks are private. Blitzer’s investment partners aren’t known; neither are financial specifics.
The sale is being run by Major League Soccer, which took over in January after prior owner Dell Loy Hansen failed to find an immediate buyer (Hansen agreed to sell the team last year following allegations of racist behavior). Blitzer’s interest, like his other soccer investments, is separate from Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the parent of the Devils and 76ers.
Utah Soccer Holdings includes the MLS club the USL’s Real Monarchs, Rio Tinto Stadium and a nearby training complex. Sportico’s recent valuations put the team at $420 million, ranked 22 out of 27 current MLS franchises.
A representative for MLS declined to comment. Blitzer and Inner Circle Sports, which was retained to assist in the sale process, didn’t immediately respond to inquiries.
Should a deal close, Real Salt Lake would be the latest MLS club to change controlling ownership this year. In May, the Wilf family, owners of the Minnesota Vikings, agreed to purchase Orlando City SC and its stadium for $400-$450 million. Two weeks later, real estate developer Ted Segal purchased Houston Dynamo FC for about $400 million. There was also an ownership shake-up that valued Inter Miami CF at roughly $600 million, and the league is still considering an expansion location for its 30th franchise.
MLS gave Hansen until early January 2021 to find a buyer, then took over the sale. Commissioner Don Garber told reporters during his annual state of the league address in April that he hoped to have a new owner in place by the end of the year.
Real Salt Lake won its lone MLS Cup title in 2009 and was runner-up in 2013. The team averaged 18,121 fans during the 2019 season, the last full pre-pandemic campaign, and is averaging 15,253 so far this year.
Blitzer is the global head of Blackstone’s tactical opportunities group and a member of the firm’s management committee. In addition to being a co-managing partner of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, he has a portfolio of soccer investments. They include English Premier League club Crystal Palace, the Bundesliga’s FC Augsburg and Belgium’s Waasland-Beveren.