Arctos Buys Stake in NBA’s Jazz, Priming Utah for More Sports

Private equity fund Arctos Sports Partners is purchasing a minority stake in the Utah Jazz.

Believed to be the largest sports-focused private equity fund in the world, Arctos has more than $5 billion in client money distributed across multiple funds. Once the NBA approves the transaction, the Jazz will become the fourth NBA franchise in which Arctos is known to be an investor. The fund controls a 13% stake in the Golden State Warriors and a 17% interest in the Sacramento Kings, as well as a stake in HBSE, the parent company of the Philadelphia 76ers. The size of Arctos’ ownership of the Jazz hasn’t been disclosed. The NBA’s bylaw require ownership stakes be at least 1% of a team.

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The majority owner of the Jazz is Ryan Smith, a tech billionaire who bought the club with his wife Ashley two years ago for $1.66 billion, although the team is now worth $1.78 billion, good for 22nd among NBA teams, according to the annual Sportico valuations.

Bringing Arctos into the fold should help Smith fulfill a long-term goal of making Salt Lake City a hub for entertainment and sports, including the addition of a third major professional sports franchise. Arctos already owns a part of MLS’ Real Salt Lake, which the Jazz owner’s Smith Entertainment Group (SEG) bought a piece of in January. The new deal between Arctos and SEG includes Vivint Arena, where the Jazz play.

“As SEG continues to build out the professional sports landscape in the state, the Arctos partnership brings strong commitment to Utah sports and a deep connection across all major sports leagues,” said Smith. “My wife Ashley and I are passionate about the state of Utah and are committed to building organizations that can be a unifying force in our community. Few things do that as powerfully as sports.”

Other members of the Jazz ownership group include Ryan Sweeney, a partner at venture capital firm Accel; Mike Cannon-Brookes, cofounder of enterprise software firm Atlassian; the family of Larry Miller, the prior majority owners of the franchise; and retired NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, who bought into the Jazz last year. Smith and his fellow owners are among the NBA’s youngest, and Smith is seen as one of the main forces in Utah’s burgeoning tech industry, dubbed ”Silicon Slopes.”

Arctos has investments in about 30 entities, including half a dozen MLB teams, three NHL squads, European soccer clubs and Elevate Sports Ventures.

“We are excited to work with Ryan and the team to explore more sports-related opportunities around the state and the opportunity to build a premier sports and entertainment center here,” said Chad Hutchinson, a partner at Arctos. “We believe in Utah and all the amazing things happening in the state, and we believe SEG is poised to be the next big sports and entertainment group.”

(This story has been updated in the caption and the second paragraph to indicate Arctos holds stakes in four NBA teams, and corrected to indicate the NBA still must approve the transaction.)

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