2 sports managers form companies to invest up to $50 million in early-stage companies

Newcastle United’s Alexander Isak in action with Crystal Palace’s Cheick Doucoure.

Lee Smith | Reuters

Two long-time sports executives are launching an investment firm that they say will back start-ups that capitalize on the growing opportunities at the intersection of sports, media and entertainment.

Velocity Capital Management announced Tuesday that it will invest up to $50 million in early-stage companies valued up to $2 billion.

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One of Velocity’s co-founders is David Abrams, co-owner of the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace and former private equity partner and chief investment officer of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils . The other co-founder is Arne Reese, who most recently served as US CEO of Sportradar, a sports technology company.

The Company has completed its first investment in Camp NYC, which creates shop-and-play retail experiences based on intellectual property of popular children’s entertainment such as Disney’s Mickey & Friends and Paw Patrol.

“Camp is a business that reflects some of the things that we’ve looked at as a company,” Abrams said.

The Company’s stores, which offer a blend of shopping and interactive experiences, are located in New York City, including its flagship Fifth Avenue location, as well as in New Jersey, California and Texas.

Velocity said it has received investment capital from a variety of sources, including Delaware North, a private company with a portfolio that includes more than 50 entertainment and sports venues, sports betting sites and the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Other investors include Signify Wealth, an investment advisor with NFL clients; Remington Ellis, a sports marketing and talent agency; Bolt Ventures, a family office investing in sports and entertainment in the US and Europe; and RWN Management, the family office of Mark Rowan, co-founder of Apollo Global Management.

In an interview, Abrams and Rees said they decided to found Velocity after watching the sports and media ecosystem evolve in areas like technology, analytics and intellectual property.

“Right now, we’re primarily focused on growth-stage companies,” Abrams said. “These are companies where we are likely to make a non-controlling investment but want to play an active role as an advisor or on the board.”

Abrams and Rees said their backgrounds in investing and esports gave them the confidence to get Velocity off the ground.

Before joining Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment in 2018 as chief investment officer, Abrams spent much of his career as a partner at Apollo. Harris Blitzer — founded by private equity professionals Josh Harris and David Blitzer — also owns the Prudential Center, the arena where the Devils play, and the e-sports organization New Meta Entertainment, among other companies in the sports world.

Rees previously led Sportradar, a data company that works with sportsbooks, sports governing bodies and media companies, through its 2021 IPO. His resume also includes positions at ESPN and the Union of European Football Associations.

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