Arctos Sports Partners has closed investments into two NHL teams: the Minnesota Wild and the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The NHL is allowing Arctos to purchase up to 10% of the Wild, according to the team. The Wild and Lightning join a rapidly growing sports portfolio for the firm’s first fund. Prior Arctos investments include the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings and Fenway Sports Group, parent of the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Minnesota owner Craig Leipold issued a statement confirming the sale Saturday. “The NHL approved the sale of up to 10% of the Minnesota Wild to Arctos Sports Partners,” Leipold said. “The sale will not affect the management or daily operations of the Wild. I will continue to own the vast majority of the Club and remain completely committed to bringing the Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey.”
An Arctos representative declined to comment. Representatives for the Lightning didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The deals are the latest in what is becoming a steady flow of private equity investments in U.S. pro sports. The NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS all changed their ownership rules in the past 18 months to allow institutional investors, and funds like Arctos have moved quickly to strike deals.
Sportico recently valued the Lightning at $805 million, ranked 18th in the 32-team league, with projected 2021-22 revenue of $161 million. Controlled by hedge funder Jeff Vinik (a former Fenway investor), the team is a prime example of pro sports franchises prioritizing real estate business. Vinik and the team have played a principal role in the city’s $3.5 billion Water Street development, which includes office space, retail, residential and medical buildings.
The Wild were valued right behind the Lightning on Sportico’s list, with a net worth of $785 million and projected revenue of $175 million.
The NHL’s rules on private equity investment allow funds to buy non-voting minority stakes in a maximum of five different teams (same as the NBA, and one more than MLS.) The maximum that a single fund can own in an NHL team is 20%, and no franchise can have more than 30% of its equity owned by investment funds, limits that are the same in the NBA and MLS. There is also a minimum investment of $20 million, a rule which applies to MLS as well.
Arctos was co-founded by private equity veteran Ian Charles and former MSG CEO David “Doc” O’Connor. The firm had about $2.9 billion in assets under management as of October, and has already made more than a dozen investments.
(This article has been updated in the second and third paragraphs to include comment from Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold.)