San Antonio Spurs owner Peter J. Holt is among the prospective buyers who have expressed interest in purchasing Mexican soccer club Querétaro F.C., according to multiple people familiar with the talks.
Holt is looking to make the Liga MX investment personally—separate from Spurs Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Spurs—according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the conversations are private. R.C. Buford, CEO of the Spurs parent, is also part of the potential ownership group, the people said.
A spokesman for the Spurs declined to comment. A representative for Querétaro didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Querétaro is currently controlled by Grupo Caliente, which originally sold the club in 2020. The new owners—a group led by Gabriel Solares, Adolfo Ríos, Greg Taylor and Manuel Velarde—were banned from the league for five years after a bloody brawl broke out at the team’s stadium in March. The incident drew criticism from across the soccer world, including FIFA, which called it “unacceptable and intolerable.”
In addition to forcing a sale of the team, Liga MX issued severe restrictions on fans, banned Querétaro management and fined the club roughly $70,000. Over a dozen people have been arrested, according to the Associated Press.
Grupo Caliente has until the end of the year to find a buyer, or the league will assume control of the process. A number of other potential bidders have expressed interest in the team, said one of the people, including a handful of Mexico-based groups. The person declined to provide specific names.
San Antonio is just 130 miles from the Mexican border, and about 65% of the city’s population is Hispanic or Latino, according to data from the U.S. Government. The Spurs, a small market team by NBA standards, have likewise begun exploring the expansion of their ‘home market’ to include Austin to the north and part of Mexico to the south. Earlier this month the team received approval from the Bexar County commissioners to play more home games away from San Antonio, including a proposed game in Mexico.
There are additional synergies between Liga MX and the Holt family’s other assets. The Spurs own USL soccer club San Antonio FC and operate the team’s 8,300-seat stadium in town. SAFC has played multiple exhibitions against Liga MX clubs, and the stadium has hosted additional Liga MX neutral site friendlies. (The city of Querétaro is about 620 miles south of San Antonio).
Wealthy Americans are increasingly looking at Liga MX, by far the most watched soccer league among U.S. viewers, as a new frontier for sports investment. Last year Al Tylis and Sam Porter became the first major American investors in Liga MX, buying roughly half of Club Necaxa in a deal that valued the club in the low nine figures. The club was valued above $200 million in a subsequent round.
The 18-team league has recently made a few changes that make it more enticing to many investors. It suspended promotion and relegation for at least the next few years and has shown increased cooperation with MLS. A long-discussed merger appears unlikely, but the two neighboring leagues recently announced a new mid-season tournament, with revenue split between the two sides.
Earlier this month Sportico reported that private equity giant Apollo was preparing a $1.25 billion investment offer to the league. That money would be contingent on the league’s clubs agreeing to sell their broadcast rights collectively, another development that would improve the value of teams like Querétaro, which is one of the least valuable teams in the league.
The Holt family is the largest shareholder in the Spurs, which Sportico recently valued at $2.05 billion. Last year the club became one of the first to accept investment from private equity, with Sixth Street buying a 20% stake (and Michael Dell buying 10%) at a reported $1.8 billion valuation.