76ers Owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer Get Ready to Expand Their Sports EmpireBy and
Pair already own franchises in NBA, NHL, Premier League
Looking to bring efficiency to an ‘unwieldly’ organization
Josh Harris and David Blitzer own a basketball team, a hockey team, a soccer team, a professional video-gaming franchise, and an 18,000-seat arena. Now they’re preparing for more.
The two investors are creating Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, a holding company that will put all of their joint assets under one roof. At launch, the portfolio will include the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, English soccer team Crystal Palace FC, eSports’s Team Dignitas, and the Prudential Center, the Newark arena where the Devils play.
It will also be the investment vehicle for their expansion into global sports and entertainment.
Scott O’Neil, the chief executive officer of the 76ers, Devils and Prudential Center, will be chief executive officer of the new venture. Hugh Weber, president of the Devils and the arena, will be president.
O’Neil said HBSE brings efficiency and structure to an organization that had become “unwieldy,” adding that Harris and Blitzer aren’t the kind of owners who run their sports and entertainment investments simply as fun, trophy properties.
“Josh and David, they’re very much looking at this business as a business,” O’Neil said.
Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management LLC, and Blitzer, a senior executive of Blackstone Group LP, bought the NBA’S 76ers in 2011 from Comcast Spectacor. The pair purchased the NHL’s Devils and the Prudential Center two years later, adding the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace in 2015.
In 2016, they bought Team Dignitas, becoming one of the first traditional sports ownership groups to invest in eSports, the competitive video-gaming league. Dozens of others have since followed suit.
Harris and Blitzer aren’t the first group to fold multiple sports properties into one ownership company to create economies of scale. Billionaire Stan Kroenke, for example, has Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which includes the Los Angeles Rams, the Pepsi Center in Denver, and English soccer team Arsenal. Others include Madison Square Garden and AEG, which is owned by billionaire Phil Anschutz.
— With assistance by Ros Krasny