Legends investing in emerging sports properties that can make an impact – Sportico.com

In recent weeks, Legends – a premium experience company – announced strategic investments in both the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) and TeamTrak (a part of the World Cycling League). The two agreements are “the tip of the iceberg and there will be a great pace of announcements [to come]”, said Mike Tomon (co-president and COO, Legends). Legends sees emerging sports as vertical growth for its core global services business (think: sponsorships, omnichannel merchandise, ticket sales, hospitality planning). And the tie-ups with AUDL and TeamTrak are “comprehensive service partnerships” that will help boost short-term revenue. But as Tomon explained, the opportunity to invest in some of the new platforms he’s helping to professionalize and grow is more exciting. “We’re investing in a place where we feel really good,” he said, and where they “know what the outcome is [will be].”

The demand for live sports content, changing consumer behaviors and the maturation of Gen-Z have fueled the launch of countless sports properties in recent years. A common trait of successful ones is that they have extremely passionate and engaged owners. Both AUDL and TeamTrak checked that box.

Legends also liked how both leagues maintain a low barrier to entry for fans (think: most people are familiar with the games); have a history of engaging different audience segments; are ready for international growth; and appears to be viable from a live events perspective.

Get JWS: Legends has built a holistic service platform for sports properties over the past 13 years, working with rights owners on everything from planning to sales to sponsorship, Tomon siad, “and then when [the fans] are meeting in person, how [they should] optimize this situation as well.”

Legends has a number of mature sports properties as clients, but earlier this year, the company took steps to diversify its client portfolio and grow its business within the emerging sports arena. The company bought Gabby Roe’s Maestroe Sports & Entertainment in February and then launched Legends Growth Enterprises, which Roe now leads as president. Prior to founding Maestroe, Roe was general manager of the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour (2002-2008) and executive director of Major League Lacrosse (1999-2002).

Maestroe spent the previous decade helping to grow emerging sports properties, including the American Cornhole League and Spikeball. “We have consulted. We did sponsorship sales. We will complement and supplement their front office areas [that lacked expertise]Roe said.

The Legends saw the opportunity to combine Roe’s unique approach to growing emerging sports assets with her resources and expertise. Tomon said they wanted to help scale new leagues “and really take the second segment of the hockey stick journey into their growth.” Legends also felt that the strength of the company’s balance sheet would enable it to invest in and run these emerging businesses.

Legends is investing between six and eight figures in developing properties it believes are positioned to achieve accelerated growth in sectors where the company excels. Investing in startup leagues is tempting for Legends because of the potential upside. For example, the PFL recently raised money at a $500 million valuation, and One Championship issued new shares at a $1.2 billion valuation last December. “The theory [behind] these developing sports have started to be realized with [$4 billion] the sale of the UFC and some of these other properties,” Roe said.

The UFC is definitely an outlier, but the opportunity to hit that kind of home run is why Legends is putting money behind some of these early-stage sports properties. Legends doesn’t base its business on the idea that “every shot is going to be UFC,” Tomon said. “There will be another UFC, no doubt. It’s just making sure we’re in the right position for it.” UFC has never been a Maestroe customer and is not currently a customer of LGE. Legends handles omni-channel merchandise sales for the MMA promotion.

The interest of legends to invest alongside a more traditional fee-for-service relationship should be attractive to many emerging sports leagues. Roe said the agency and property are “much more aligned when [they] both have the same long-term goal of building EBITDA,” Roe said. Rights owners who don’t find the option attractive can purchase the 360 ​​services on an a la carte basis.

Tomon defined long-term as “10 to 20-plus” years. He explained that there is a lot of work to be done to get a new sports property off the ground, and to do it correctly, Legends and the initial league must have a solid agreement.

Brand partnerships are a recent driver for most high-growth sports properties (including AUDL and TeamTrak). In many cases, those deals can also be a “major source of co-promotion,” Roe said, and brand tie-ups would be an area LGE will focus on with both.

Legends Global Enterprises will also help emerging sports properties grow their fan bases through the development of new media partnerships domestically and internationally, and eventually through live events. “And it’s all about data [insights] and analytics that we’ll be able to dive into very deeply,” Roe said. The assumption is that knowing who the fan is and why they are engaging with the league will enable the property to extract more revenue from those individuals and their partners.

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