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Endeavor to buy nine Minor League Baseball teams

Agency giant creates new subsidiary to own and operate clubs.

9 December 2021 Ed Dixon

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  • Endeavor to acquire Iowa Cubs, Memphis Redbirds, Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, Hudson Valley Renegades, and San Jose Giants
  • Sports media and entertainment giant also set to operate Atlanta Braves’ four affiliates
  • Diamond Baseball Holdings subsidiary to be overseen by Pat Battle and Peter B Freund

Sports media and entertainment giant Endeavor is buying nine Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams, which will be owned and operated by a new subsidiary, Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH).

Endeavor, which owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the IMG agency, has signed purchase agreements to acquire clubs affiliated with various Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises, including the Chicago Cubs, St Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants.

The nine clubs include Triple-A, High-A and Single-A affiliates: the Iowa Cubs, Memphis Redbirds, Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, Hudson Valley Renegades, and San Jose Giants.

Subject to the Professional Development League (PDL) approval process, DBH will also operate all four affiliates of the 2021 World Series winners the Atlanta Braves: the Gwinnett Stripers, Mississippi Braves, Rome Braves, and Augusta GreenJackets.

Endeavor is also in late stage negotiations with a handful of other ‘significant franchises’ and expects to announce those developments in due course.

The company added that DBH will be dedicated to supporting, promoting and enhancing the sport of baseball through professional management, best practices, innovation and investment. The new subsidiary will be overseen by Learfield chairman Pat Battle and long-time MiLB owner and operator Peter B Freund, who will serve as executive chairman and chief executive, respectively.

“We are excited to lead Diamond Baseball Holdings and create new opportunities for clubs and communities that play an essential role in cultivating America’s favourite pastime,” said Battle and Freund.

“We will be global in our ambitions and hyper-local in our approach, and creating incredible fan experiences will remain our number one priority. Additionally, we look forward to providing opportunities for growth to the employees of PDL Clubs whose passion and ingenuity have built the sport through the decades.”

Reports of the acquisitions initially emerged in October. According to The Athletic, Endeavor was teaming up with private equity firm Silver Lake for the deals and has ambitions to potentially own 40 or more MiLB teams.

Endeavor’s outlay also comes after February saw MLB unveil the format for its new minor league system after each of the 120 affiliate clubs offered an invitation to join the PDL signed ten-year licensing agreements.

Under the new structure, which represents a drop of more than 40 teams, MLB’s 30 franchises will provide minor league players and staff to an affiliate each at the Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A level.

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