RWL Congratulates Ripken Baseball – Firm Provided Legal Representation in Transaction with the Harris Blitzer Group
RWL congratulates Ripken Baseball, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Bill Ripken on the Harris Blitzer Group investment as reported below. RWL’s Sports Law, Gaming and Facilities and Business and Commercial Transactions groups, led by Alan Rifkin and Jamie Katz, are pleased to have assisted in the transaction providing legal advice and guidance to the Ripkens.
Ripken Baseball eyes expansion with investment from billionaire owners of 76ers, N.J. Devils
By Garrett Dvorkin – Reporter, Baltimore Business Journal
Jan 19, 2023
The billionaire owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils have invested in Ripken Baseball, with plans to expand the brand and merge it with a youth baseball facility near Cooperstown.
Ripken Baseball, a Maryland-based company started by Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Billy, operates clinics, camps and tournaments for youth athletes across the East Coast. The company will merge with Cooperstown All Star Village, which also received an investment last year from Josh Harris and David Blitzer, founders of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the 76ers and Devils.
According to Sportico, Harris and Blitzer, through their family offices, have purchased a controlling interest in Ripken Baseball. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Ripken Baseball currently operates four facilities across Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. The investment from Harris and Blitzer, and the connections they have in the industry, will allow Ripken Baseball to expand not only in location but into other sports as well, while keeping Cal Ripken a big part of what they do.
“This allows us to offer the same great service and experience at our current locations, but allows us to provide more,” said Mike Kenney, CEO of Ripken Baseball. “More and better experiences for kids, parents and coaches across the country.”
While the Ripken name is synonymous with Baltimore, Harris and Blitzer will help spread the brand across the country. The duo dipped their toes in the youth sports market last year when they invested in Cooperstown All-Star Village, a youth facility near the Baseball Hall of Fame that hosts over 10,000 youth players over its 12-week summer experience. The four Ripken sites, combined with the All Star Village hosted 15,000 teams, 250,000 participants and 750,000 visitors last year.
Kenney said they also want to offer the Ripken experience to athletes who play other sports. Kenney said when they expand beyond the diamond, having Harris and Blitzer, who have connections in the basketball and hockey world, will help connect them to the experts they need to nail the details on what he calls the “rectangle field sports” like lacrosse and soccer, among others.
Even with the new investment, Kenney said the structure of Ripken Baseball will stay the same. When it comes to the Ripken brothers, he promised that they aren’t going anywhere. There will be a new board of directors, but Cal will still have a seat and a voice in all matters.
“Cal’s role is not changing, he just now has some more partners aligned in the vision,” Kenney said.
Cal and Billy Ripken started Ripken baseball in 2003. The brothers learned about baseball early on from their dad Cal Ripken Sr., who would eventually go on to be the only dad to manage his sons at the professional level. Growing up in a baseball household, Kenney said the brothers accumulated invaluable knowledge about baseball and how it relates to life.
“They started Ripken Baseball to pass on the teachings their father gave them. They felt the knowledge they had would be valuable for kids,” Kenney said.
Over the past 20 years, the brothers have used their expertise to open youth baseball facilities focused on giving youth players a real professional experience. Ripken Baseball is famous for building replica fields of famous stadiums such as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and, of course, Camden Yards. The kids get to experience the thrill of hearing their names called over the loudspeaker with their walk-up music playing as they try to hit a home run over a version of the Green Monster. Kenney said they pride themselves on getting every detail just as it is in the big leagues, down to the Gatorade and gum in the dugouts.
“Our intention is to give every athlete and player a big league experience, we think of all the little details. If you stack enough of those details together, it creates a unique experience,” he said.