Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez and former Walmart ecommerce chief Marc Lore have signed a letter of intent to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association, a spokeswoman for the franchise said on Saturday.
Under the terms of the deal, Rodriguez and Lore will initially take minority stake in the Timberwolves and its sister franchise in the Women’s National Basketball Association, the Lynx, the spokeswoman said.
The agreement values the Timberwolves and the Lynx at $1.5bn and the buyers could take majority control in about two-and-a-half years, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The sale is the latest in a series of high-profile transactions involving big US professional sports clubs, as valuations have soared from millions to billions of dollars in recent years, far outpacing traditional investment benchmarks like the S&P 500.
In the last year alone, baseball’s New York Mets sold to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen for $2.45bn, and the NBA’s Utah Jazz sold to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith for more than $1.6bn.
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Rodriguez, best known for his 12 seasons as a New York Yankee, was among the star-studded bidders for the Mets in a glitzy auction process last summer, ultimately losing to Cohen. Lore, a serial entrepreneur who left Walmart this year, founded Jet.com which he sold to the retail company in 2016 for $3.3bn.
In a joint statement, Rodriguez and Lore said they looked forward to working with current Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and were “excited by the prospect of getting to know the Timberwolves organisation, the talented team and their incredible fans”.
Taylor purchased the Timberwolves in 1994 for about $90m, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He announced he was exploring a potential sale of the franchise last autumn, with the hope of keeping the team in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves were nearly moved to New Orleans before their sale to Taylor. The team has never won a league championship but has made nine playoff appearances, most recently in 2018.
The Minnesota Lynx have won four league championships, the last in 2017.