Investing in Sports Teams – feat. Justin Papadakis | Aspen Funds
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Investing in Sports Teams – feat. Justin Papadakis

One of the favorite investments of billionaires are sports teams. The sports industry can be very lucrative, but largely out of reach for individual investors. In this week’s episode, COO & Chief Real Estate Officer of the United Soccer League Justin Papadakis, joins co-hosts Ben Fraser and Jim Maffucio for an interesting discussion about his experience building this growing soccer league, how they create grassroots interest in new sports teams, and the over 40 stadium projects in their pipeline. Listen in to hear about their approach to this elusive asset class!

Papadakis joined the USL in 2014 when he was named President of Commercial Ventures in December of 2014. In May of 2016, he began his role as the league’s Chief Operating Officer before in the past year adding the title of Chief Real Estate Officer as he oversees one of the key areas of the league’s growth in future years.

Arriving by way of DDR Corp, now called SITE Centers, Papadakis served as the real estate company’s leasing director for three years before advancing as the company’s business development director. Papadakis holds a Juris Doctorate from Cleveland-Mar-shall College of Law and earned a dual degree in Public Policy and Economics at Duke University, where he also played four seasons for the Blue Devils’ Men’s Soccer pro-gram. Papadakis is also a member of YPO, New York Metro Chapter.
Since joining the organization, Papadakis has led USL’s expansion efforts across the USL Championship and League One. Over the past four years he has facilitated an unprecedented surge in soccer-specific and mixed-use stadium developments anchoring economic live, work and play projects across the country, extending far beyond the pitch while amplifying the fan experience for current and future USL communities.

Connect with Justin on LinkedIn –
Learn more about USL – 

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Investing in Sports Teams feat. Justin Papadakis

Hello, future billionaires. We’ve got a really fun interview today with Justin Papakadis. He is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Real Estate Officer at USL, United Soccer League, and, very interesting interview.

, admittedly, I’m not a big, you know, soccer follower, so little bit out of my realm, but it’s really cool to kind of hear what’s going on in. Kinda the world of soccer. And they’re actually been building this, this league alongside the MLS, in the United States and getting some major traction and, really kind of democratizing access from an ownership standpoint to, you know, own part of these teams in these different markets.

And so one of the cool things, and obviously part of our theme is investing like billionaires and we know billionaire. A lot of times we’ll own sports teams, this kind of a fun, thing to learn about. And so we, we had a lot of different angles. We talked about how they go pick their markets, how they actually develop, these really cool entertainment centers and districts around the stadiums.

And, really what they’re doing and kind of changing the monetization models of sports teams and, very exciting stuff. So hope you enjoy this episode.

Again I always gotta give the disclaimer, you know, for those that may, be raising money, it’s that we haven’t done any due diligence. You have to do your own due diligence.

If that’s something that you are interested in, by bringing ’em on our podcast, we are not promoting them necessarily. And. Just more out of curiosity and of, you know, bringing interesting topics to our, of, listener base. So do your own due diligence if you’re interested. And, finally, if you are enjoying this, show, we really appreciate you leaving a review on whatever platform you listen to this podcast on it really helps us promote this show and get in front of more audiences to share the wealth of knowledge about investing like a billionaire.

So with that enjoy the show.

Welcome back to the invest like a billionaire podcast.

I am your cohost Ben Frazier joined by fellow co-host.

Today we are joined by Justin Papa Deus, and he is the COO and chief real estate officer of the USL soccer league. And we’re really excited to have you on Justin. This is really interesting for our listeners and you know, the name of our podcast is invest like a billionaire.

And if you think of what’s one thing that most billionaires have that most of us, you know, non billionaires , they don’t have it’s investment and ownership of sports teams. And so, we thought it’d be really fun to bring you on talk about, the landscape of sports ownership. And so you are, an executive of the USL, which is a soccer.

And, really, I kind of view it as democratizing ownership into sports, and it’s a really cool model and, wanted to bring you on to talk about this. So thanks so much for joining.

Well, it’s also kind of fun too. Right? So you, you own part of our sports team. , we’re talking about it before. What, what was mark Cuban’s initial investment into the, the Dallas Mavericks? Do you remember those numbers? We talked about it before, but it was, oh man, it was in the millions and now hundreds of millions and now it’s multiple billions of dollars of value if the team was valued at right.

So it’s obviously done very well for him along side, being a very fun investment. , so talk a little bit about the USL. You know, this is a league. You know, I’m, I’m admittedly not, you know, super big into soccer. So, you know, I don’t know all, all the different leagues and things, but, it was, cool to kinda talk about how you guys are, are building this, this league.

And it’s actually been around for quite a long time.

Right. I mean, globally, it’s, it’s the most played in most watched sport, in the world.

Right, So talk a little bit about that model, you know, how, how do you generate returns, right. And how do you decide, you know, when a team is created and where it’s created and how it kind of break down the model a little bit.

That’s really cool. So that kind of plays into your title of chief real estate officer, which you don’t, you know, immediately think of for a sports league. But so you guys are basically taking when you’re, when you’re building a, a stadi, you’re not just doing a kind of singular, you know, development here.

You’re actually looking at the. Surrounding area, what can we do from a residential standpoint, what we can do from a retail standpoint and actually draw more people to it. So that the experience is, is more than just like to your point inside the four walls. And so are you actually developing the, you know, apartments or multi-family for example, or, the other mixed-use part of it?

Or do you sell that off to other developers or what’s how do you kind of do that?

Yeah. Yeah. So do you typically own the real estate

So, so how does this kind of play into the landscape of, kind of soccer in the states here? So we have the MLS. Obviously they’re in a lot of, kind of major metros. So are you guys targeting, you know, smaller metros, tertiary markets? How do you determine that have to have other sports teams you want to go after a market?

That’s no sports teams and kind of build kind of a grassroots, kind of following. How do you kind of look at a market and where do you kind of fit into the system? Kind of the broader landscape.

and everything, those traditional metrics. And markets. And I think it’s very relevant to this convers.

billionaires when we can democratize that opportunities that we. and that threshold. , we think that you know, for investors point.

Yeah. That’s, that’s really cool. , Talk a little bit about, we mentioned, the previous call, we had just about the concept of selling players, right? Which is not something that really any other sports leagues have as kind of a way to create, you know, monetization channels. So talk a little bit about that, that whole concept and how you kind of create value by, you know, nurturing and growing these, these players.

so the, the leagues with the most

Yeah. Very interesting. So going back to what you said earlier that you have 40 different stadium projects under development right now. I mean, that’s, that’s way bigger than I thought this was. I mean, how do you, how are you managing that and how are you kind of, again, you talked about how you identify,

you know, the top hundred markets, but then how do you create kind of.

Ground swell movement, both from an investor standpoint, a fan base standpoint, you know, kind of creating these almost farm leagues in academies. Like you’re saying, I mean, it that’s a lot of, a lot of work. It seems like. I mean, how do you, how do you go about like in each of those markets, creating that, that ground swell.

Right. Cool. So are you generally partnering with larger institutional investors to fund kind of the equity portion or family offices? Or do you also work kind of with, high net worth or credit investors for portions of, you know, the equity or how does that kind of work from the financing side?

Is there opportunity for, you know, say a high net worth to be able to invest in a team that’s maybe in their local city and, all that.

Got it. So the, the, the teams themselves, maybe a higher, you know, level of, of investor or have, you know, more net worth general. But then on the ancillary kind of real estate and development there’s opportunities, like what’s kind of a minimum investment.

If you even have one on like the team side of things for, if there’s a high net worth individual, you know, is it 5 million? Is it 500,000? Is it it’s way, way beyond that?

Very cool. Well, Justin, this has been super, super fascinating and definitely, I feel I got an education, hearing about this and obviously very exciting about where it’s going.

You know, it definitely can sense the excitement from you and, and obviously the, kind of development of the pipeline is indicative. Some pretty cool growth and movement there. , what’s the best way for folks to kind of, you know, get on a mailing list or hear about these upcoming announcements and even potentially participate, you know, and learning about the actual opportunities themselves, with USL?

Great. We’ll put some of that in the show notes for those that, want to check it later, but Justin, thank you so much for coming on. This has been really fun to have you and, share about your, your expertise here. Thanks for having

Awesome. Well, that was a really fun interview. Definitely. I learned a lot and, pretty cool what they’re doing and really both from the standpoint of finding the different markets, developing, kind of these entertainment districts around the stadiums and really creating new monetization models, for their sports teams.

And so it’s a cool kind of thing that really. Kind of, for the elite investors of the ultra billionaires of the world to be able to own sports teams, you know, but there is a way that they’re really trying to bring this more in a democratized way to more investors and really kind of creating interest from local investor groups.

, so very cool. Again, obviously, we’re not promoting them. We haven’t reviewed any of the investment documents or anything. So your due diligence, if that’s of interest to you. , and, again, we do appreciate you listening to this show. , if you are interested in finding out about, the latest investment opportunities that we have, with our private equity firm, Aspen funds, you can go to our, and you can find the investor club.

Sign up for that list. You’ll get first access to our deals before they go live to our broader, community, and investor base. So thanks again for listening


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