Investment firm 777 Partners is determined to make the British Basketball League (BBL) the second biggest domestic league in the sport, behind the NBA.
Since the US company’s acquisition of 45 per cent in the BBL last year, the league has seen record crowds and will have its first team – the London Lions, who are also owned by 777 – play in the EuroCup next season.
777 has a growing sporting portfolio but is looking to expand the BBL to rival other global competitions for the honour of being the biggest domestic basketball league behind North America’s NBA.
“The owners of the clubs care deeply, they have worked on building the league with not a lot of support from outside investors or from the government or the other kinds of stakeholders historically,” Lenz Balan, vice president of 777 Partners, told City A.M.
“We think of this as a tremendous opportunity. We will look to attract additional investors – deep pocketed smart business minded investors – to the league, for the existing clubs but also for potential expansion franchises and in a number of major cities where we think there ought to be a basketball club.”
The UK, despite its interest in basketball, has struggled to visibly grow the sport beyond the boundaries of those already invested.
But there are aspects of the UK sports market that have spearheaded 777’s interest in the BBL, according to Balan.
“The UK has a lot of inherent advantages and a prior history of popularity in the country – back in the heyday in the 90s – and a large and growing participant base,” he said. That – diverse and young – are the audiences that broadcasters and sponsors want to go out and reach.
“You’ve got a relatively stable country, with a lot of disposable income with a passion for sport.
“I mean, our long term plan is to make it the second biggest market for basketball in the world. That’s the long term plan, and we’re in it for the long term.”
Whether 777 looks to increase its stake in the sport remains unknown but the value of the return of their investment will come in years rather than months, when sustained success or failure can be accurately measured.