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NFL partners with Bruin Sports, Red Bird to revamp hospitality business

The NFL American football league has announced a new hospitality venture with global sports marketing company Bruin Sports Capital and private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners.

Under the agreement, Bruin Sports and RedBird will assume operational control of the league’s NFL On Location (NFL OL) premium events and hospitality business. Bruin Sports and RedBird will form a new holding company, the name of which will be revealed at a later date.

The NewCo has been granted a long-term licence by the league to operate NFL OL, which will be the founding business of the venture. However, the NewCo’s strategic objective will be to build a diversified, global business.

George Pyne, the former IMG Worldwide president who launched Bruin Sports earlier this year, will serve as executive chairman of the NewCo. In a separate transaction, 32 Equity, the entity that oversees the NFL’s various private equity efforts, will also invest in the NewCo.

As part of the arrangement, the NewCo will retain the exclusive rights to provide hospitality services for NFL events covered by NFL OL. These events include showpiece properties such as the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NFL Draft, and International Series Games in London.

In addition, the NewCo will seek global opportunities to expand the business through partnerships with other rights holders in sports, entertainment and lifestyle and hospitality. This will include other sports leagues as well as major entertainment and lifestyle events such as award shows and music festivals.

“The NFL remains focused on delivering fans unique, high quality experiences at our games and events,” Kevin LaForce, vice-president of corporate development for the NFL, said. “This opportunity enables our On Location business to continue to deliver on this mission while identifying new and innovative offerings for our fans. We are very excited to begin working with our new partners to further grow this platform so that our fans have unique access to unforgettable NFL experiences.”

Gerry Cardinale, founder and managing partner of RedBird, added: “The NFL has done a remarkable job over the last 10 years building NFL OL into a successful business that has the potential to be a standalone global platform. When we think about investing in sports, we look for opportunities where we can partner with iconic rights holders to help them create premium live event experiences for their fans.

“The NFL is clearly at the top of that list, and it is a privilege to partner with them and work closely with George to help realise the global potential of this platform which we hope to expand through organic growth and acquisitions.”