Minor League Baseball Sports Business

Endeavor Establishes Diamond Baseball Holdings And Is Set To Acquire Several MiLB Teams

Endeavor announced signing purchase agreements to acquire nine minor league baseball teams through its newly founded subsidy, Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH). The new organization intends to utilize professional management, best practices, innovation, and investment to support, promote, and enhance the game of baseball. More specifically, DBH will support ticket sales, naming rights, food operations, broadcasting rights, and sponsorships for the teams. The Professional Development League (PDL) Clubs in the acquisition are affiliates of some of the most prominent franchises in the MLB, including:

  • Iowa Cubs (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs)
  • Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals)
  • Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees)
  • Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A affiliate of the New York Yankees)
  • San Jose Giants (Single-A affiliate of the San Fransisco Giants)

DBH will also acquire the four affiliates of the 2021 World Champion Atlanta Braves pending the PDL approval process:

  • Gwinnett Stripers (Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves)
  • Mississippi Braves (Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves)
  • Rome Braves (High-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves)
  • Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves)

Furthermore, DBH is in late-stage negotiations with other franchises with undisclosed terms. 

Two industry professionals with exceptional experience were appointed to lead Diamond Baseball Holdings. Peter B. Freund is a minority owner of the Yankees and majority owner of the Redbirds. He was selected to serve as CEO of DBH, bringing with him practical background from his time as an owner and operator within the MiLB. Freund recently conferred with the office of the Commissioner of Baseball regarding the transition of Major League Baseball’s licensed affiliates while playing a significant role in the formation of the MLB Draft League.

Pat Battle will serve as Executive Chairman of DBH while currently serving as an advisor to Endeavor across multiple subsidiaries and Chairman of the Board of Learfield. Battle also has an ownership stake in two PDL Clubs. 

“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 favorite 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.”

Marv Goldklang, Chairman of the industry-leading Goldklang Group and 30+ year limited partner of the New York Yankees, expressed his excitement to see the addition of Battle, Freund, and the rest of DBH: “As a longtime Minor League owner and operator, I am thrilled that Hudson Valley will now be part of such a dynamic new group of Clubs. I have known Peter Freund for almost 15 years and have every confidence that with him at the helm, Diamond Baseball Holdings will continue to build on our legacy, which we are incredibly proud of.”

The MLB cut the number of minor league teams by 25% earlier this year. Considering each of the acquired clubs mentioned lost an estimated $5 million in the previous year, it’s easy to see why that’s the case. Still, Endeavor provides promise to step in and lift these affiliates to a more profitable state. WME, another Endeavor subsidy, recorded $1.4 billion in third-quarter revenue, according to Endeavor’s earnings report released in October. WME’s contribution was part of the roughly $4.9 billion in total revenue produced by all of the media conglomerate’s subsidies, including the UFC. 

“Opportunities to move into an ownership position of a sport so steeped in history are increasingly rare, and we are confident this will drive meaningful growth in the Owned Sports Properties segment of our company,” said Mark Shapiro, President of Endeavor. “Just as we’ve done for the UFC, PBR, and Euroleague, we see tremendous potential to turbocharge these storied Clubs using the scale and capabilities of Endeavor. Our expertise across sponsorship sales, event operations, licensing, marketing, and content creation will bring incredible value to these Clubs, supporting communities across the country who form the backbone of the Professional Development League system.”