The Cleveland Guardians’ Newest Investor Pulls Off a Feat Jerry Jones and George Steinbrenner Never Dared to Try

Though it didn’t attract much attention last week, an announcement by Major League Baseball signals a quirky milestone in the history of American professional sports. David Blitzer’s group of investors is on its way to owning 35% of the Cleveland Guardians, making him the first person ever to hold stakes in franchises in the five major team sports.

George Steinbrenner may have built the New York Yankees into the second-most valuable franchise in sports. Jerry Jones has turned the Dallas Cowboys into the most valuable franchise. But neither diversified the way Blitzer has.

MLB welcomes David Blitzer to the Cleveland Guardians

David Blitzer attends the grand reopening of Wollman Rink NYC in Central Park on Nov. 14, 2021, in New York City. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Wollman Rink NYC
David Blitzer attends the grand reopening of Wollman Rink NYC in Central Park on Nov. 14, 2021, in New York City. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Wollman Rink NYC

Commissioner Rob Manfred’s office announced last week that it has OK’d a group headed by David Blitzer to buy 35% of the Cleveland Guardians. Sportico.com values the Guardians at $1.385 billion, so the deal probably carries a price tag of about $500 million. The website also reported terms of the purchase give Blitzer the opportunity to buy a controlling interest in the Guardians at a later date.

What makes the deal fascinating is that it’s not Blitzer’s first foray into team ownership. Nor is it his second, third, or even his fourth. By purchasing a piece of the Guardians, he will possess equity stakes in the five major U.S. team sports. No other owner has accomplished the feat.

Blitzer also owns stakes in the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, New Jersey Devils of the NHL, and Real Salt Lake of MLS. On top of that, he has invested in multiple overseas soccer clubs, including Crystal Palace in the English Premier League and FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga.

Who is Cleveland Guardians investor David Blitzer?

A 1991 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, David Blitzer is not immensely wealthy by MLB, NBA, or NFL standards. Nevertheless, an estimate in May pegged his net worth at $1.3 billion.

Blitzer, a 52-year-old New Jersey native, built his fortune in the private equity sector, joining the Blackstone Group following graduation. He heads the firm’s tactical opportunities group out of New York City.

His first big move in sports came in 2011 when Blitzer led a group that paid $280 million for the Philadelphia 76ers. Two years later, he assembled a group that bought the majority interest in the New Jersey Devils. Blitzer and his colleagues went international in 2015 by taking the controlling interest in the Crystal Palace soccer team. That began a spree of soccer investments across Europe.

Blitzer and business partner Joshua Harris became passive investors in the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020, taking a small stake in the NFL team. Blitzer kicked off 2022 by joining forces with Ryan Smith, who bought the Utah Jazz in 2020, to purchase Real Salt Lake.

Now, the Cleveland Guardians acquisition gives Blitzer a grand slam plus one.

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