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SeatGeek to go public after $1.35bn RedBall merger

Billy Beane’s SPAC believes its capital and experience will drive growth.

14 October 2021 Steve McCaskill
SeatGeek to go public after $1.35bn RedBall merger

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  • SeatGeek gets funds and support to fulfil its ticketing tech ambition
  • Combined entity already works with NFL, MLS, and Premier League teams
  • Current SeatGeek management team will remain in place post-merger

Ticketing technology firm SeatGeek is to go public following a merger with RedBall Acquisition Corp in a deal that values the combined entity at US$1.35 billion.

SeatGeek was founded in 2009 and offers teams, leagues and venues a vertically-integrated, mobile-centric technology platform that makes it easy to buy, sell, and return tickets. This integrated stack simplifies existing ticketing processes, allowing sports organisations and venue operators to create new user experiences that drive additional revenues.

The firm has partnerships with the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Soccer (MLS), while it also has deals with individual teams in North America and Europe, including half of the clubs in the Premier League. Non-sporting venues such as theatres are also customers, while casinos, racetracks and golf courses have all been identified as areas of potential growth.

RedBall, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) led by former baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, only recently initiated discussions with SeatGeek and the two firms have now entered into a ‘definitive business agreement’ to merge.

The SPAC raised US$575 million in an initial public offering (IPO) in 2020, stating at the time that RedBall intended to pursue an acquisition in the sports, media, and analytics sectors, with a focus on professional sports teams.

Central to RedBall’s pitch is its belief that it has both the capital and industry expertise to deliver the full commercial potential of SeatGeek’s platform.

Beane is executive president of baseball operations at the Oakland Athletics, while Cardinale’s RedBird Capital has more than US$5 billion worth of assets under management, including investments the YES Network, Fenway Sports Group, the XFL, Toulouse FC, and the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Rajasthan Royals.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. SeatGeek will hold 63.5 per cent of the merged company, while RedBall shareholders will command 28.5 per cent. SeatGeek’s chief executive and co-founder Jack Groetzinger, as well as the senior management team, will remain in place following the merger.

“We’ve grown substantially in 2021, gaining in market share as the live entertainment industry recovers,” said Groetzinger. “That makes this a particularly exciting time to go public via this merger with RedBall. Their significant experience and relationships in sports, live entertainment, and ticketing makes RedBall the ideal partner for SeatGeek.”

“We believe SeatGeek is truly the future of live event ticketing. SeatGeek’s technology, customer focus, brand and vertically integrated model align the needs of fans and rightsholders, and differentiates SeatGeek from other industry players, as demonstrated by its impressive growth and share gain momentum,” added Alec Scheiner, RedBall chief executive.

“Just as importantly, Jack and the SeatGeek team have built a proven and scalable growth model with compelling long-term margins. With additional capital and RedBall’s company building experience and relationships, we’re excited to help scale this visionary company.”

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