Just over six months after NBA star Kevin Durant had a mysterious meeting with the Union’s ownership in Chester, the two sides reportedly have agreed to a deal for Durant to buy a small stake in the team.
The Sports Business Journal said Thursday night that Durant’s stake will be between 1% and 5%. It did not say how much he spent to buy the stake. Whatever sum it is would set a formal value on the franchise for the first time since Jay Sugarman launched it in 2008.
A Union spokesperson said the team declined comment. A spokesperson for Durant’s investment company, Thirty Five Ventures, also had no comment.
Durant and colleagues from Thirty Five Ventures met with members of the Union’s ownership group in December at the team’s offices in Chester. Those offices are in the old Delaware County Electric Co. generating station that’s across the parking lot from Subaru Park.
The meeting was shrouded in secrecy, and in fact probably wouldn’t have become known had not employees of another company in the building spotted the Brooklyn Nets star in the lobby. Photos posted to Twitter quickly went viral. One with Durant, Sugarman, and Union manager Jim Curtin popped up and was subsequently deleted.
Thirty Five Ventures is an investment firm with stakes in a range of sports, technology, media, and philanthropic entities. It’s not clear as of now whether the firm or Durant personally has bought the stake in the Union.
Sugarman has been the Union’s majority owner for its entire history. A collection of seven minority owners with small stakes includes Richie Graham, who bankrolls the team’s youth academy and high school in Wayne; and Richard Leibovitch, an investment firm owner who’s one of the group’s most public faces. He’s also the most recent addition, having come on board in March 2018.
Notable among the rest are commercial real estate investors Robert and Christopher Buccini and David Pollin, whose firm owns the land in Chester that is home to Subaru Park, the Union’s training facilities, and the nearby office building.
The same firm owns the 76ers’ Fieldhouse in Wilmington, which includes the arena where the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats play. It also has indoor and outdoor turf soccer fields. The Union have been using the outdoor field as their training base while Delaware County has been in the red phase of restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
Though the county will progress to the yellow phase on Friday, which would allow the team to return to Chester, the Union have yet to announce plans to do so.
Toward the end of this month, the Union will travel to Orlando for a tournament that will mark the resumption of MLS games for the first time since the pandemic shut down the sports world in March.
Durant's interest in MLS is not new. Last October, The Athletic reported that the Washington-area native met twice with D.C. United, first in 2012 then in 2018.