Former Mariners Owner Jeff Smulyan Asking $200 Million For Sports Media SPAC

Brendan Coffey
·2 min read

Jeffrey Smulyan, former owner of the Seattle Mariners and current CEO of two publicly traded radio companies, filed this morning for a $200 million special purpose acquisition company. The target of his Monument Circle SPAC: “businesses in the media, technology, sports and entertainment sectors, and related industries which capitalize on our management team’s expertise.”

Smulyan’s blank-check firm cites the disruption of traditional media and sports models as a driving force behind the opportunities for bringing a growth company public. “There are several opportunities for media- and marketing-savvy companies to aggregate audiences around valuable intellectual property, such as sports rights, sponsorships and carriage deals,” according to the prospectus. Monument Circle also cites the emergence of U.S. sports betting, increasing multiculturalism and a media shift to subscription models as other factors. The company intends to seek targets with a value of $500 million to $1 billion.

Smulyan was majority owner of the Mariners in the early 1990s, selling the team to Nintendo. He is the founder and CEO of Emmis Communications as well as CEO of MediaCo Holding, two micro-cap companies traded on the Nasdaq stock market. He’s also on the board of All Star 2021, a group overseeing Indianapolis sporting events including the NBA All-Star Game, NCAA Final Four and BCS football championship.

The management team for Monument Circle consists of seven executives, including Smulyan. Most have radio backgrounds, including three other Emmis Communications executives. Among the non-Emmis directors are Stephen Goldsmith, the former Indianapolis mayor and George W. Bush advisor, and Traug Keller, who used to be senior vice president at ESPN, in charge of ESPN Audio.

In providing management’s qualifications, the filing cites such facts as the Mariners setting record attendance under Smulyan’s watch and Monument Circle’s executives helping develop New York City’s WFAN, the first all-sports radio station, and recruiting talent such as Don Imus and Funkmaster Flex.

The SPAC intends to sell units consisting of one share of stock and half of a warrant, the right to buy additional shares. Monument Circle will have 18 months from its IPO to find an acquisition, or its IPO capital must be returned to shareholders. Cantor and Moelis are joint bookrunners, the banks that will see the IPO to market.

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