ANN ARBOR, Mich. — On Friday at the fifth annual Michigan Sport Business Conference, two U.S. professional sports team owners confirmed their commitment to pursuing eSports teams.
During the afternoon keynote, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said, “We’re in the hunt right now. It’s insanity.”
In January, Gilbert partnered with Bruin Sports Capital and WPP on a new $35 million fund called Courtside Ventures, which will invest in companies at the intersection of sports, media and technology. Vasu Kulkarni, Founder of Krossover and one of three fund managers, said in January that there is an interest in cutting-edge technology across wearables, virtual reality and eSports.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also said at the conference that he is actively pursuing one eSports team but didn’t elaborate beyond that. This past May, a Miami Dolphins spokesperson told ESPN that the organization is prepared to enter the gaming world.
“eSports is real, it’s a fact,” Matt Higgins, Co-Founder of Stephen Ross’ RSE Ventures and Vice Chair of the Miami Dolphins, told ESPN. “When you have tens of millions of people engaging online, eventually sponsors and rights buyers take notice. It’s inevitable. We’ve been studying the space and plan to get involved very soon.”
Sports team owners Ted Leonsis, Magic Johnson and Peter Guber purchased Team Liquid in late September, entering into eSports. It was recently announced that Memphis Grizzlies Co-Owner Steve Kaplan is now a majority shareholder in Immortals.
By Mark J. Burns
Published by SportTechie on Nov. 4, 2016