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Fenway Sports Group is close to acquiring the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins were purchased in 1999 by Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and an investor, who helped the franchise out of bankruptcy.Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

CHICAGO — The parent company of the Red Sox is closing in on a deal to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy confirmed Tuesday.

At the Major League Baseball owners meetings here, Kennedy said Fenway Sports Group was in advanced negotiations with the NHL franchise, which has been owned since 1999 by its legendary star Mario Lemieux and investor Ron Burkle.

Kennedy would not comment beyond confirming the talks, which have not been finalized.

Should a deal be finalized, it would represent the first evidence of FSG’s stated strategy of expanding its sports portfolio, especially in North America, since it received a $750 million capital boost in March from RedBird Capital Partners.


FSG wants to expand into sports enterprises beyond Major League Baseball, the UK-based Premier League soccer (Liverpool Football Club) and NASCAR (with the newly branded RFK Racing, formerly Fenway Roush Racing).

Buying an NFL and NBA team is also on FSG’s wish list, as well as exploring opportunities in MLS, NWSL, the WNBA, and possibly for another European soccer club.

FSGh as limited its shopping list to sports franchises it considers a blue-chip operation that plays in markets with passionate fan bases, a descriptionwhich suits the Penguins and Pittsburgh.

John Henry, principal owner of FSG, also owns the Globe.

A price tag is still unknown, but the Penguins recently were valued at $845 million by Sportico.

A source close to the deal said that Lemieux, 56, would retain ownership position and leadership role in the organization.

The Pittsburgh-based DK Pittsburgh Sports outlet reported that Burkle will not be part of the new ownership group, but David Morehouse would remain as CEO.

The Penguins have won five Stanley Cup championships, with Lemieux part of all five — the first two as a player and the last three as an owner.


Any deal would be subject to approvals from three entities: the National Hockey League and the boards of both the Penguins and FSG.

The Jacobs family, owners of the Bruins, have been kept abreast of the FSG-Penguins talks. The Bruins already are partners with FSG; they own 20 percent of NESN, with FSG owning the other 80 percent. NESN broadcasts Red Sox and Bruins game.

Fenway Sports Management represents the marketing arm of FSG, and it has a longstanding relationship with NBA star LeBron James that has flourished this year. James, along with his longtime friend and partner Maverick Carter and their financial adviser Paul Wachter, became partners in FSG when RedBird, led by Gerry Cardinale, made the investment that made it the third-largest shareholder.

Prior to becoming FSG’s first Black partners, James and Carter held ownership shares of Liverpool FC.

Last month, FSG was part of a consortium that made an investment in James and Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment company, which in turn is expected to create content based on FSG properties.

James, one of the most recognizable and influential athletes in the world, is a client of Nike, which replaced Boston-based New Balance as the jersey sponsor for Liverpool. Nike also is part of the ownership consortium with FSG.

Fenway Real Estate, another FSG holding, announced plans in the last year for a mixed-use development plan for parcels of land surrounding Fenway Park.


In addition to marketing, real estate, and sports franchises, FSG has expressed an interest in investing in or acquiring companies in the sports betting, esports, and data analytics realms.

The original name of Fenway Sports Group was New England Sports Ventures, which purchased the Red Sox from the Yawkey Trust in 2002 for $700 million.

In 2010, FSG purchased Liverpool FC for $493 million.

In March, Forbes pegged the worth of the Red Sox at $3.465 billion, third highest in Major League Baseball.

In April, Forbes valued Liverpool FC at $4.1 billion, the fifth-most valuable soccer team in the world.

When RedBird made its investment in March, the valuation of FSG was set at $7.35 billion.

Michael Silverman can be reached at