May 26 – A Chinese investment group has bought minority stakes of a U.S. basketball franchise and its arena.
The group could purchase as much as 15 percent of Cavaliers Operating Co. although the deal is still pending approval from the National Basketball Association’s board of governors.
Team president Len Komoroski told the AP that the group met with Cavaliers principal owner Dan Gilbert about the partnership and called the business venture “an exciting new opportunity.”
Mr. Gilbert will maintain his role in overseeing the organization and 20,000-seat arena. N.B.A. has been open to international group ownership at a minority level as a way of marketing the game globally especially in China where the sports industry is still growing.
The Chinese investment group is led by Sportscorp China founder, Jianhua Huang, who in the past has brokered deals with the New York Yankees and the Houston Rockets.
N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern told The New York Times in a telephone interview that the deal would be “the natural next step in our relationship with China” and “very much a validation of our business expansion there.”
If the deal pushes through, star player, LeBron James, could be inclined to stay with the team longer to see his popularity overseas increase in the region. Mr. James is already considered one of the most famous NBA players in Asia. Last year, he won a gold medal playing for the U.S. team during the Beijing Olympics.