Column: Penguins Sale to Boston Group Follow Global Pattern, Should Be Good for Pittsburgh Fans | Sports

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PITTSBURGH – The announced sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins will link the five-time NHL champion franchise to several successful sports and entertainment organizations with a reach that includes baseball, hockey, soccer, auto racing and television programming.

The Penguins have been owned by former players Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle for 22 years. But a deal finalized on Monday will put the Pittsburgh team under the banner of the Fenway Sports Group – which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

FSG has acquired a controlling stake in the team, although Lemieux and Burkle will both continue to be part of the ownership group. FSG presents itself as “a global portfolio of sports, marketing, media, entertainment and real estate”.

John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State’s John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, said the deal involving the Pittsburgh team and the New England squad follows a pattern of growing sports ownership.

“From a national and global perspective, the sale of Pens is another example of consolidating owners in all professional sports leagues,” Affleck said. “And more and more, it seems, professional teams are bought and sold in a global market. For a small example, I was just in Scotland, where four in ten Scottish Premier League teams are at least partly owned by people with close ties to the United States. So foreigners buying from beloved local teams have become quite common. “

The company was formed in 2001 as New England Sports Ventures when John W. Henry joined television producer Tom Werner and former Baltimore Orioles executive Larry Lucchino, among other investors, to buy the Red Sox. from Boston.

Henry is the primary owner of FSG. Since buying the Red Sox in 2001, the team have won four World Series titles after an 86-year drought.

Henry is also the owner and publisher of the Boston Globe, and FSG owns 80 percent of the New England Sports Network (NESN).

Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs owns the remaining 20 percent. NESN broadcasts Red Sox and Bruins games throughout New England.

Jacobs is not with the FSG but is chairman of the NHL board of governors, which must approve the sale of the Penguins to the FSG before it becomes official. The Board of Governors is generally expected to approve the sale before the end of the year. According to the Boston Globe, the Bruins and Jacobs have been kept abreast of talks between the FSG and the Penguins.

FSG President Tom Werner was a successful television producer prior to his baseball career, partnering with producer Marcy Carsey at the Carsey-Werner Company, which generated shows such as “Roseanne,” “The Cosby Show ”and“ That ’70s Show ”.

Lucchino is originally from Pittsburgh and graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School. He is President and CEO Emeritus of the Red Sox. Lucchino was president / CEO from 2002 to 2015 and was responsible for bringing GM Theo Epstein to the Red Sox from the San Diego Padres, where Lucchino was president / CEO from 1995 to 2001. Epstein was the CEO of the Red Sox when the team broke “the curse of the Bambino” by winning the 2004 World Series.

Current Red Sox President / CEO Sam Kennedy became a partner of FSG in March after working for the Red Sox since 2015 as President after Lucchino retired from his leadership roles within the team. Prior to his stint with the Red Sox, Kennedy was COO / President of Fenway Sports Management, a sports marketing agency owned and operated by FSG.

Kennedy was involved in the 2010 purchase of Liverpool Football Club by FSG.

Michael S. Gordon is the Chairman of FSG and is primarily responsible for the management of Liverpool FC.

Vice President David Ginsberg is also Vice President of the Red Sox. Ginsberg provides financial advisory services to FSG and its subsidiaries. Phillip H. Morse is also vice president of FSG and Red Sox after becoming a partner of the Red Sox in 2002. Morse previously founded the North American Instrument Company, a medical device company which was later sold to Pfizer.

Now known as RFK Racing, FSG bought 50 percent of the stock car organization Roush Racing, which competed in the 2007 NASCAR Cup Series.

In 2010, the FSG acquired the Liverpool Football Club football team from the English Premier League. Liverpool have won both the Premier League and the Champions League since being taken over by the FSG.

NBA star LeBron James and longtime business partners Maverick Carter and Paul Wachter were announced as FSG partners in March 2021. James individually held a 2% stake in Liverpool FC before joining FSG.

James, Carter and Wachter are also investors in the Pasadena-based Blaze Pizza chain. James and Carter own production company SpringHill Entertainment and last fall James became an investor in tequila company Lobos 1707.

So how should Pittsburgh sports fans see this move?

Affleck predicts the response will be overwhelmingly favorable – if the Penguins continue to be Stanley Cup contenders.

“On impact, I think Fenway is a group that clearly wants to win and try to win and actually win,” Affleck said. “So that would indicate good things for Pittsburgh in the years to come.

“Are you going to lose some of the feeling that the Pens are really the Yinzer hometown club?” May be. It depends in part on the fans. You probably won’t make a player work for the local beer distributor / hockey announcer out of season, but those days are decades past, anyway.

Amanda Filipcic-Godsey is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh. She covers Pitt’s football and basketball for CNHI Pa Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaFGodsey.

Amanda Filipcic-Godsey is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh. She covers Pitt’s football and basketball for CNHI Pa Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaFGodsey.


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