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FSG's Werner bullish on growth around Penguins

By David Rumsey
MARC BRYAN-BROWN

Fenway Sports Group Chair Tom Werner cited opportunities to grow revenue within the Penguins as a main attraction for the company’s impending purchase of the NHL franchise. “The Penguins are an iconic team,” Werner said yesterday at SBJ’s Dealmakers in Sports conference in N.Y. “They continually get the highest ratings, locally, for their RSN.” The growth opportunities he sees come in the form of real estate around PPG Arena, creating more hospitality spaces in the venue and holding more events at the facility. Werner confirmed FSG will keep the Penguins business operations team intact. “We love the management, but we also think that with our executive talent we can grow it,” he said. “We're very pleased with the foundation right now.”

The Penguins acquisition is just the latest in a series of moves for FSG since partnering with Arctos Sports Partners and RedBird Capital, which Werner acknowledged has given the group liquidity and capital to make further investment. “We are in a growth phase,” he said. Many believe FSG will eventually go public, but Werner cautioned against that assumption. “There are both advantages and disadvantages of going public,” he said. “We like where we're positioned right now. We like our partnerships with institutional investors. At the moment, it's not like we've got a plan to go public.”

Quick hits:

  • On the MLB lockout: "I don't know which day it will get resolved, but it's in everybody's best interest to come to an agreement. I'm hopeful it will be sooner rather than later. ... Baseball is recovering, as most of the sports industry, from the pandemic, but I'm very hopeful that we'll get this behind us and get the season in on time."
  • On managing different teams under the FSG umbrella: “These are all independent units that report to John Henry and Mike Gordon and myself. They have their own strategies. I think having multiple teams in our portfolio fortifies us against some sort of downturn.”
  • On advising the EPL in its U.S. media rights negotiations: “We were very encouraged about the number of bidders for the USA rights fees. I was very pleased with the eventual decision to go with Comcast NBC.”

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