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Kevin Durant joins Philadelphia Union ownership group

(Credit: Philadelphia Union)

National Basketball Association superstar Kevin Durant has been announced as a minority owner of Major League Soccer team Philadelphia Union.

The Brooklyn Nets forward has purchased a five-per-cent ownership stake in the club, with the option to purchase an additional five per cent in the near future.

Terms were not disclosed but, according to Union majority owner Jay Sugarman, the team is now worth more than $325m. This makes Durant’s stake worth at least $16.25m.

“I’ve been a fan of the sport, and then seeing how fast the popularity of the league was growing, seeing more fans pop up in different cities around the country, and then seeing how these franchises impact the city’s businesses and people individually was very intriguing,” Durant told ESPN.

The deal also features a partnership with Thirty Five Ventures, the sports, technology and media business entity run by Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman. According to a press release, the partnership “will focus on growing the Union footprint in the sports world, working closely with the Union on marketing opportunities, and expanding the Union’s community outreach in conjunction with the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation (KDCF).”

Durant has long been interested in MLS as a business opportunity. According to The Athletic, Durant twice tried to purchase a minority stake in DC United in 2018.

“Having Kevin and his team joining in a really significant capacity gives us something special, something unique,” Sugarman told ESPN. “He’s a champion and a sports icon, but he’s also a philanthropist and a community icon. He brings exactly what we need, that champion mentality on the field, but also that impact off the field.”

Durant is the latest NBA star to invest in an MLS team. In 2019, Houston Rockets guard James Harden joined the ownership group of Houston Dynamo, National Women’s Soccer League club Houston Dash, and their joint venue BBVA Stadium.

MLS has announced it will stage the “MLS is Back Tournament”, a World Cup-style tournament in Orlando, Florida, featuring all 26 teams, which is set to begin on July 8 and finish on August 11.