David Blitzer, a Blackstone executive and co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, is among those interested in purchasing MLS club Real Salt Lake, according to multiple people familiar with the sales process.
Blitzer, whose interest is not connected with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, is among roughly a dozen investors approved by the league to pursue the team, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the talks are private. The sale is being run by MLS, which took over in January after prior owner Dell Loy Hansen failed to find an immediate buyer (Hansen agreed to sell the team following allegations of racist behavior).
Utah Soccer Holdings includes the MLS club, the USL’s Real Monarchs, Rio Tinto Stadium and a nearby training complex. A number of prospective bidders have made trips to Utah in the past few weeks to meet executives and tour the facilities, the people said.
One notable absence: Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith. Despite expressing interest in purchasing Real Salt Lake, the billionaire co-founder of Utah-based Qualtrics hasn’t spoken with MLS in a handful of months, and isn’t currently in any active discussions on an acquisition.
Blitzer didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Representatives for MLS and Inner Circle Sports, which was retained to sell the team, declined to comment. A spokesman for the Jazz didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about Smith’s interest.
Real Salt Lake has been on the market since Hansen, facing public pressure, announced last August that he would sell the team. Hansen was under investigation by both MLS and the NWSL for allegedly making racist comments. He released a statement apologizing for offensive language and for “being insensitive to the plight of others.”
MLS gave Hansen until early January to find a buyer, then took over the sale. Commissioner Don Garber told reporters during his annual state of the league address last month that he hoped to have a new owner in place by the end of the year.
Interim team president John Kimball added more clarity a few weeks ago, telling the Salt Lake Tribune that there was momentum from potential buyers from around the world, with a number of groups “consistently coming in and looking at the team.” It’s not clear if Blitzer is among the prospective bidders who have been on the ground in Utah.
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.
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 (the parent of the 76ers and Devils), he’s an investor in English Premier League soccer club Crystal Palace.