NHL’s Penguins sold to Fenway Sports Group: What to know about new LeBron James-backed ownership



LeBron James has made a pretty good living for himself not only for his success on the basketball court, but his off-the-court deals with partnerships, endorsements and investments.

He is a part-owner of Blaze Pizza. He owns plenty of real estate. And now he owns an NHL team?

The Penguins  announced on Monday that Fenway Sports Group, a large sports limited liability company based in Boston, has agreed to acquire controlling interest of the Pittsburgh-based NHL team, needing only approval of the NHL Board of Governors to confirm the move. That means that James, as a partner with FSG, is now a part owner of the Penguins as well.

According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, the sale is expected to close for around $900 million.

The Penguins had previously been sold to former player Mario Lemieux in 1999, two years following his retirement from the NHL, and businessman Ron Burkle after the team had filed for bankruptcy under its previous owners. Now, another athlete is in the ownership mix.

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The Penguins’ statement announcing the sale said Lemieux and Burkle will remain part of the ownership group.

Who now owns the Penguins?

The sale is not expected to be finalized until the end of the year, so for the timebeing, Lemieux and Burkle remain the owners of the team.

However, following approval from the NHL Board of Governors, the deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the team announced.

“The Pittsburgh Penguins are a premier National Hockey League franchise with a strong organization, a terrific history and a vibrant, passionate fan base. We will work diligently to continue building on the remarkable Penguins’ tradition of championships and exciting play,” Fenway Sports Group chairman Tom Werner said in a statement.

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In addition to Werner, the other big name in FSG is principal owner and founder John Henry. Henry is well known as the principal owner of the Red Sox, Liverpool F.C., The Boston Globe and Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing that all fall under the umbrella of FSG. According to Forbes , Henry has a net worth of $3.6 billion.

There are many partners involved with the group, including James, so his overall stake is certainly a bit limited.

How did James get involved with FSG?

James first became involved with FSG when his marketing firm, LRMR Branding & Marketing, inked a partnership with FSG in April 2011. That deal was set up to align Fenway Sports Management to work with LRMR on more global marketing, as opposed to just U.S.-based. 

But 10 years later, James became even further involved with the group. When RedBird Capital Partners placed a significant investment with FSG, James and LRMR CEO Maverick Carter exchanged previous ownership in Liverpool to become owners along with RedBird, the company announced in March .

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The Boston Globe reported that RedBird Capital Partners invested $750 million into FSG as part of the deal.

Which other teams are owned by Fenway Sports Group?

Fenway Sports Group has been involved in the sports ownership business for a long time. It bought the Red Sox in 2002 from the Yawkey Trust, and immediately turned the team around to win a World Series in 2004. 

In 2007, FSG bought 50 percent stake in the NASCAR team, Roush Racing, and the team name became Roush Fenway Racing. This past year, Brad Keselowski joined the organization as a co-owner to again change the name to Roush Feneway Keselowski Racing.

The group made another large investment in 2010 when it bought Liverpool. 

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Along with those teams, FSG also owns the minor league baseball team, the Salem Red Sox, as well as the stadiums Anfield, home to Liverpool, and Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox. It also owns the New England Sports Network and The Boston Globe.

James became a part owner of Liverpool in 2011 as part of his deal between LRMR and FSM. When he became a partner earlier in 2021, he also entered into ownership of the Red Sox, Roush Fenway Racing and the other entities.


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