The San Antonio Spurs have a newly consolidated investor group that includes Austin billionaire Michael Dell and a San Francisco-based investment firm.
As part of moves announced Friday, Spurs Sports & Entertainment Chairman Peter J. Holt was promoted to managing partner — a position that gives him complete control over the team and frees him of the need to build support among shareholders. The board of Spurs Sports & Entertainment approved the change.
The number of investors in the Spurs has shrunk as minority stakeholders sold their shares to global investment firm Sixth Street and Dell, the founder of Dell Technologies.
Both moves are pending NBA Board of Governors approval.
As the team continues to rebuild around younger players coming off two pandemic-shortened seasons, Holt said in a prepared statement that the Holt family is “excited to continue working with all of our investors to provide the support, leadership and resources needed for the Spurs to continue to thrive in San Antonio.”
In the past four seasons, the team has failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs, missing them entirely the past two seasons. But the franchise’s valuation has exploded in recent years, topping out this year at $1.85 billion, or 14th out of the league’s 30 teams, according to an annual ranking by Forbes. The estimate makes it one of the highest valued franchises among the NBA’s small-market clubs.
The leadership and investor moves “could be a signal that there’s a concerted effort to have a clear strategy,” said Kirk Wakefield, a professor of retail marketing at Baylor University, where he also heads a sports business program that the Spurs are frequent partners with. The franchise is also a client of Wakefield’s consulting group.
Holt took the reins from his mother, Julianna Hawn Holt, in March 2019. She became the franchise’s chair in 2016, taking over for her then-husband, Peter M. Holt, who had led the organization for two decades until 2016.
The team won all five of its championships during Peter M. Holt’s stint as chair, the last in 2014.
Director of corporate communications Liberty Swift said in an email that the changes in governance are a result of an effort to “modernize the organizational structure in alignment with current NBA best practices.”
For Wakefield, the shrinking number of investors also holds significance. The acquisitions by Dell and Sixth Street nearly halved the number of shareholders from 22 to 13.
“Fewer cooks in the kitchen makes for a more cohesive strategy,” Wakefield said.
The Holt family remains the franchise’s largest shareholder. Spurs Sports & Entertainment also owns the Austin Spurs, a team in the NBA’s minor G League, and San Antonio FC, a USL Championship league team.
Peter J. Holt’s new level of control may also cement the team’s placement in San Antonio for the foreseeable future. Last year, when a minority stake in the team was up for sale, rumors swirled that the team, which came to San Antonio from Dallas as part of the American Basketball Association in 1973, could be relocated.
“The Spurs are here to stay in San Antonio and the whole family is committed to the wonderful legacy that’s been built here in San Antonio,” Holt said in a video released alongside the announcement.