BankBoston Eyes the Big Leagues of Sports Finance

Article excerpt

Strengthening its sports financing team, BankBoston Corp. this week announced an alliance with Game Plan LLC, a sports investment banking boutique.

The bank made an undisclosed investment in Game Plan, which provides consulting, advisory, and financing services to professional sports teams, leagues, and facilities.

Game Plan will remain an independent entity but will operate out of BankBoston's Federal Street headquarters.

Sports "will always have an ongoing stream of opportu-nities-ownership changes and teams, generational transfers, recapitalizations, and stadium financing. They're all opportunities for a provider of financial services," said Paul Hogan, vice chairman for corporate banking at BankBoston.

"The important thing is to make sure we have the right kind of experience available to us, because sports is very specialized," Mr. Hogan said.

"There are a lot of details around such things as player contracts, tax implications, league rules, and so forth."

BankBoston has relationships with three sports franchises: the New England Patriots, the Dallas Stars, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

But the bank has yet to break into the major leagues of sports lending.

Game Plan was founded in 1995 by Robert Caporale, a sports and entertainment attorney, and Randy Vataha, a former wide receiver for the New England Patriots. The firm recently played a role in the sale of 50% of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is providing consulting services to the All American Football League.

As professional sports teams and privately funded stadiums multiply, sports has become more attractive to lenders. Many banks have only entered the business in recent years. …