Fenway Sports Group, which also is the ownership group of English soccer club Liverpool and Roush Fenway Racing in NASCAR, have reportedly been in discussions with Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle to purchase the NHL club that has been under Lemieux and Burkle’s ownership since 1999. The potential sale agreement would need to be approved by the Fenway Sports Group board and then would be subject to NHL approval through the NHL’s Board of Governors. Reportedly, Lemieux and Burkle were looking to sell the Penguins in 2015, ultimately not finding a partner.
Lemieux and Burkle purchased the Penguins in 1999 for $107M, saving the franchise at that point from bankruptcy and potential relocation. Since then, the Penguins have grown into a premier franchise in the NHL, winning three Stanley Cups under the Lemieux-Burkle era in 2009, 2016, and 2017. According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, if the Penguins are to be sold to Fenway Sports Group, Lemieux would remain in a minority ownership role.
Nearly every NHL team, nearly every major sports club, has been affected by COVID. Ticket sales and attendance are down across the league and the Penguins, much like the Chicago Blackhawks, saw their long-standing home sellout streak end already this season. According to recent valuations by Sportico, the Penguins are the NHL’s 15th-most valuable team, coming in at an $845M value.
for example, on recent MSG quarterly call they mentioned how the combined estimated valuations of the Knicks ($5.8 billion) and Rangers ($1.9 billion) where worth more than MSG's current enterprise value of $5 billion. So it's not an exact science, but fun and at least a ballpark
— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) November 16, 2021
In 2019, the Arizona Coyotes went through an ownership change when Alex Meruelo took over the club. As part of the NHL’s ownership process, the league has a standard agreement that prevents new team ownership from applying for relocation of a club for the first seven years after new ownership takes over.
Fenway Sports Group is headed by billionaire John Henry and has a $7B value. LeBron James and music executive Jimmy Lovine are also investors in the company.