A Super Bowl-winning quarterback and a real estate developer both moved the goalposts for Black ownership of major sports corporations in the same week.
The Dad of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II pitched in more than 300 Major League games over an 11-year career, playing for six different clubs and building some great relationships, while exposing his younger son Patrick to the clubhouses and superstars of American pro sports.
Mahomes II started out as a baseball player and was even drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2014. His dad once told me that everyone assumed the younger Mahomes would follow in Pat’s footsteps and become an MLB player.
The football gods had other plans and after becoming the third Black quarterback in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, earlier this month, Mahomes signed a 10-year extension with up to $503 million with the Chiefs that ties him to Kansas City through the 2031 season.
Mahomes took that football bag and reinvested in his other love, baseball, by becoming a member of the new ownership group of the Kansas City Royals. His contract almost ensures that he will retire as a Chief, barring some misfortune on the back end of the deal, which is always possible because nothing is guaranteed in football.
We still have a ways to go before MLB has a majority owner of color, but this is a start.
Mahomes, at 24 years old, will be the youngest part owner in sports history. The Royals did not say how much of a stake he took in the team or the value of his share, but the Royals are valued at just over $1 billion, according to Forbes.
Mahomes Is To Royals As Jay-Z Was To Brooklyn Nets
We know that the main function of this deal is about optics and associating the Royals with the booming Mahomes brand. Kansas City Royals could use some energy and newsworthy nuggets injected into a franchise that has become boring and dropped from the national conversation. Similar to when Brooklyn sold Jay-Z less than 1 percent of the team to capitalize on his cultural popularity, bringing in Mahomes at the apex of his popularity definitely gets the Chiefs more media attention.
Plus, adding a minority owner is a great look for the Chiefs in light of the recent racial tensions and demands by Black America for more inclusion and opportunity in America’s corporate power structure.
Brandon Bellamy, Pro Baseball Majority Owner
With all due respect to Mahomes, the guy we should actually be lauding right now is Brandon Bellamy, Chief Executive Officer of Velocity Companies LLC and the only Black majority owner in pro baseball.
Brandon Bellamy is about to make history! Baseball needs more black owners if they’re serious about increasing percentage of African American players. https://t.co/0YwIGdZdNa
— DNA | DoN’t Assume (@TheDNACulture) July 29, 2020
The Atlantic League has unanimously approved his purchase of the league’s new expansion club in Gastonia, North Carolina which is set to launch next spring.
According to Baseball America, there has not been a Black majority owner of any pro baseball club since Tom Lewis owned the South Atlantic League’s Savannah Cardinals from 1986-87.
“In the professional community, there are many people who are incredibly accomplished from all walks of life. The closer we can come to reflect that in the ownership of our teams the better example we can set for our counterparts,” Atlantic League President Rick White said.
At a time when MLB is cutting minor league teams and COVID-19 has destroyed the economic stability of several small towns that rely on minor league and MLB baseball to survive, Bellamy was able to make a significant purchase and acquire ownership.
“I think it’s awesome that we have a lot of kids who are black and brown paying sports,” Bellamy told Baseball America. “…But I also think it’s cool for them to see that there is the option of owning the team. That you have representation in the C-Suites, in management and you can own the team.”
The real estate developer, who has developed $500 million in projects, will also be helping to build the surrounding community with real estate projects around the Gastonia ballpark.
According to Baseball America, “The Gastonia ballpark is designed for independent baseball with a 1,500-seat main bowl and a total capacity of 4,800 (with berms, picnic areas and other group seating providing the rest of the seating). The ballpark is expected to be one that produces offense—left field is only 305 feet down the foul line and 340 feet to the power alley with a tall fence. It will be a multi-purpose stadium that is also capable of hosting soccer and football games.
City With Potential
Gastonia is a city of 75,000 that is 20 miles west of downtown Charlotte. It is currently an exurb of Charlotte, but with attempts to get light rail to Charlotte and a potential widening of I-85, it could become a suburb of the city over the next 10-20 years.”
“The opportunity for us to bring multi-family residential, to bring retail and to bring office (space), potentially, to go along with family-friendly fun that comes with minor league baseball is a win for everybody. I think it will be catalytic to their downtown development,” Bellamy said.
ML has 30 teams and 150 Minor league teams where individuals can own teams. There are also roughly 30 Independent League teams. Until Monday, there was not one majority owner. Michael Jordan is the only Black majority owner in all of the major sports, so Bellamy’s pro ownership is nothing to sneeze at and it positions him to be able to eventually build the capital and connections to become the majority owner of a major sports franchise.
Bellamy definitely bought in during an exciting time. His Velocity Companies will run the ballpark, own the team and also develop the area surrounding the ballpark, which is dubbed the FUSE District (Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment).
Kudos to Patrick Mahomes and Brandon Bellamy for making the improbable possible and pioneering the movement for Black ownership in pro baseball.