Celebrity owners are nothing new in the world of pro sports, and superstar musician Diplo now looks set to join the likes of Justin Timberlake, Magic Johnson and Jay-Z in the owner’s suite.
The world-famous DJ and music producer leads a group that recently purchased a minority equity stake in Arizona United Soccer Club, a team in the United Soccer League. The USL serves as the third tier of American professional soccer, after Major League Soccer and the North American Soccer League.
“I see soccer the same way I see music, as a connective tissue linking the world’s cultures,” Diplo said in a statement released by the team.
The club hailed Diplo’s social media presence -- among Twitter, Instagram and Facebook he has some 5 million followers -- as one obvious benefit of the new partnership.
Diplo follows in the footsteps of fellow celebs Will Ferrell (Los Angeles Football Club - MLS) and Drew Carey (Seattle Sounders SC - MLS) as part owners in an American professional soccer team.
MORE SOCCER: Mexican National Team coach slams Major League Soccer
Edited by Tanner Simkins
In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick interviews Canadian Premier League Commissioner David Clanachan and takes you through the biggest sports business stories of the week.
LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE
1. Kansas City, here we come. Our “Power of Sports” program heads to Kansas City this month, highlighting community outreach programs, culturally significant sites, and people who have made a difference through sports. This month, host Rick Horrow visits the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to speak with President Bob Kendrick about the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Negro Leagues coming up next year and the museum’s role in the celebration and in the community. He also checks in on two of the Kansas City Royals’ youth outreach programs: Royalty Fields grants and a recurring Special Olympics clinic, and hears from James McGinnis, a high school football player from the KC Metro, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and used the Chiefs’ success last season to motivate his recovery. Our Game Changer segment features an interview with former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue filmed in early October at a Sport Business Handbook contributor symposium hosted by EVERFI at their Washington, DC headquarters.
2. The Orlando Magic have "filed an updated master plan” for their downtown Orlando Sports + Entertainment District that is “expected to more than double” the original $200 million project budget. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the mixed-use district will be built “starting next year on 8.4 acres across from Amway Center.” Magic Chief Communications Officer Joel Glass said the project will now cost “well over” $500 million. The district will “contain nearly 110,000 square feet of retail space, a conference center hotel with 80,000 square feet of event space, offices, apartments and a 2,500-space parking garage.” The updated plan maintains the original concept from 2018 but “increases the number of hotel rooms by 50 and more than doubles the amount of office space from the original 200,000 square feet to 420,000 square feet.” District Director Pat Gallagher said that the office tower “would now rise to 18 stories, which includes the ground-floor retail, multilevel parking structure and commercial office space.” The Sentinel notes the Magic’s new headquarters “would occupy 40,000 square feet in the office tower,” or close to 10%.
3. Unsung World Series winner this year: Palm Beach County, FL. The most publicized “first” this year involves the visiting team winning every World Series game. However, maybe one of the most important economic “firsts” is the first time the World Series finalists shared a Spring Training facility: the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The 7,700-seat stadium also features six practice fields each for the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros. The 160-acre site also includes a 1.8-mile public walk trail and other facilities. The Palm Beach County Sports Commission touts the facility as a major economic generator for the county, as it also hosts over 1,400 youth and tournament baseball games each year. Look for a series of major announcements by the county and sports commission over the next two months.
With playoffs on the line, the Washington Spirit hosts the NC Courage in a must-win regular-season home finale Saturday night.
NC Courage sits high atop their first-place throne with an icy six-win streak, 14-4--4 record overall leading the NWSL with 46 points, 31 goal differential, 50 goals for and 19 goals against. The struggling Spirit, with one win, one loss and three draws in their past five matches, need to find a way to crack the Courage and tack on another win to keep postseason hopes alive.
Mallory Pugh has made strong moves for the Spirit since returning from injury and will be a key player to breakthrough the Courage defense with nine clean sheets (just one more than Washington) and averaging 0.9 goals allowed per game.
The Spirit cannot afford to lose this game if they want to snag a playoff spot, and that chase continues in Maryland.
SPIRIT-COURAGE GAME: HOW TO WATCH
What: Washington Spirit vs. NC Courage
Where: Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, MD
When: Saturday, September 28 at 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington