Eli Manning is playing ball again but in a new arena: private equity. The two-time Super Bowl quarterback formerly of the National Football League’s New York Giants has clinched his first deal as a partner at investment firm Brand Velocity Group.
The firm has acquired a majority stake in youth league apparel company Score Sports, according to a statement reviewed by Bloomberg News. While financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Abrdn Plc and Ocean Avenue Capital Partners contributed capital support.
A squad of current and former pro athletes across multiple leagues also invested, including Carmelo Anthony, Nolan Arenado, Andre Drummond, Steve Hutchinson, Carli Lloyd, Weston McKennie, DK Metcalf, Khris Middleton, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, Tim Tebow, Isaiah Thomas and Klay Thompson. Eli Manning also invested, along with his brothers Peyton, also a former NFL quarterback, and Cooper, a sports commentator and entrepreneur.
The transaction values the business at about $145 million, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the details are private.
“It’s been a fun journey this last year,” Eli Manning said in an interview. “Obviously with Score Sports being the first transaction that’s occurred since my time of being in private equity, its been a great learning experience for me.”
Co-founded in 1975 by sisters Jill Menzel and Rosa Cursage, Score Sports markets and manufactures uniforms and equipment for sports from soccer to flag football. The Wilmington, California-based company aims to sell affordable, yet durable quality products for youth leagues and YMCAs.
As part of the growth plan, Score Sports is vying to snap up contracts with large municipalities, which could reduce the company’s exposure to consumer spending amid an economic downturn. According to Brand Velocity Founding Partner Austin Ramos, the company has already secured an eight-year, high-margin contract with the city of Los Angeles.
Ramos said that Score Sports proved its resilience during the Great Recession, when it lost 1.7 percent of its revenue for one year and then bounced back.
“Youth sports are youth sports, they’re not going anywhere,” Ramos said. “This is a business that should do very well over the coming years regardless of economic environment.”
Score Sports is Brand Velocity Group’s fourth platform investment, with the firm executing more than $400 million in deal value to date.
Manning said his first private equity deal feels like “getting through the first game and finding a way to win.” The feel of a national championship, he added, “might come on the sale down the road.”