May 14, 2024 - Business

Ex-49ers QB Steve Young on PE in the NFL

Steve Young at Axios BFD.

Steve Young at Axios BFD on May 14. Photo: Chris Constantine on behalf of Axios

Steve Young, the NFL legend and private equity investor, tells Axios that enabling private equity stakes in NFL clubs could bring financial rigor and help professionalize team operations.

Why it matters: Private equity investment in sports teams has surged in recent years, and the NFL is talking about allowing PE buyers.

Catch up quick: After retiring from a Hall of Fame NFL career in 1999, Young joined two co-founders and launched HGGC, which has amassed around $7 billion in capital commitments since it started and invested in more than 600 companies.

Driving the news: "Bringing non-generational capital into the NFL probably will force better standards inside and financial rigor and hopefully that would end up out on the field," Young said, speaking at the Axios BFD event in San Francisco on Tuesday.

  • "There's this logjam of equity that's stuck generationally, and they've got to figure out a market to make it more liquid," Young said.
  • But Young said he personally — and HGGC — don't want to be in the business of taking stakes in teams because the equity values are so high, "I'm not going to join that parade now," said Young.

Context: Young's comments come amid a surge in private equity dealmaking — an uptick that gained steam earlier this year after years of dormancy thanks to tight lending markets.

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