Laurene Powell Jobs Purchases Stake in Monumental

Billionaire widow of Steve Jobs now owns part of Capital One Arena, Wizards and Capitals

  • by Tim Newcomb
  • Published: October 4, 2017

The new name goes up on Capital One Center, Washington, D.C.

The Washington, D.C., sports and entertainment scene just received a major new player — billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs.

The entrepreneur, worth around $20 billion according to a Forbes estimate, has an agreement to purchase a 20-percent stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by Venues Today, an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars that makes Powell Jobs, 53, the second-largest stakeholder in the company behind CEO Ted Leonsis. The transaction is pending approval from both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL).

Monumental, worth roughly $2.5 billion according to the Post, includes ownership of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and the newly-named Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

“We have an agreement with Laurene Powell Jobs … to join the Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group,” Monumental said in a statement. “The process is underway and is pending league approvals.”

The president of the Emerson Collective, an enterprise focused on spurring change and promoting equality in social justice issues such as education and immigration, and widow of Apple’s Steve Jobs, earlier attempted a foray into sports with a bid to purchase the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. The team was sold to Steve Balmer.

Powell Jobs, who can attribute much of her wealth to holdings in Apple and Disney—Steve Jobs started both Apple and Pixar Animation, bought by Disney in 2006—recently purchased The Atlantic magazine, also based in Washington, D.C., through Emerson Collective. Monumental said that Jobs’ philanthropy through Emerson Collective fit the vision of Leonsis and his “double bottom line philosophy: that companies that do best are those that do good in their communities.”

“That someone of Laurene’s impressive caliber is interested in coming into the ownership group further validates that Monumental Sports & Entertainment is continuing to build one of the most consequential, most valuable sports and entertainment companies in the world,” the statement reads.

Laurene_Powell_Jobs.jpgLaurene Powell Jobs

With the investment, Powell Jobs propels herself into the sports and entertainment industry, becoming one of the few female owners in NBA along with Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, Ann Walton Kroenke of the Denver Nuggets and Gail Miller of the Utah Jazz.

The Monumental empire includes growing values in sports franchise in the NBA and NHL. Forbes has valued the average NBA franchise at $1.36 billion and estimated the Wizards at $1 billion. Recent NBA sales will push that number higher. Forbes values the Capitals at $575 million.

But that isn’t all. Along with a one-third ownership in Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, a regional sports network, the company also includes the WNBA Mystics, the Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade Arena Football League teams.

On the facility side, Monumental owns a sports facility in Northern Virginia and a new 4,200-seat Wizards practice facility set to open in Southeast Washington in 2018. The 45,000-square-foot practice facility will host concerts, community events, WNBA games and potentially NBA D-League games. The Rossetti Architects and Marshall Moya-designed project includes retail and private team facilities.

Monumental signed a new agreement with Capital One in August to rename what was previously known as Verizon Center, reported in the range of $100 million over 10 years, which Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, called at the time “substantial” and placed it near the top of any arena in the country and even above some National Football League (NFL) stadiums.

Monumental has already announced that a new point-of-sale system will enable the venue to offer Capital One cardholders automated discounts on food, beverage, merchandise and more throughout the arena.

“I think leveraging different things into an experience for any company is important at any level (of sponsorship) and certainly with naming rights, the ability to leverage the two businesses is great,” said David Touhey, president of venues for Monumental. “I think there is certainly potential across a lot of dual business lines. Where things can happen, they are a great partner. We are both local, prominent companies. As things align, it makes sense for both to certainly see more (activations).”

While announcing the new naming rights deal in the summer, Monumental also announced—which was simply a matter of timing and not related, Touhey said—a $4-million investment into the 20-year-old, privately financed downtown arena. “We want to do some updates to stay fresh and stay current,” he said.

As part of the updates, the Mounumental360 program will use data collection from the new point-of-sale system to better understand fans and learn preferences for when they interact with any part of the Monumental franchise.

The home to over 220 concerts, shows and events a year, including the Capitals and Wizards, Capital One Arena will host major concerts this year, along with the A-10 men’s basketball tournament in March, 2018 and the East regionals of the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The Post reports that Leonsis owns around 40 percent of Monumental. Other Monumental investors include Raul Fernandez, vice chairman of Monumental, philanthropist and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, Capital One founder Richard Fairbank and Mark Lerner, whose family also owns the local Major League Baseball franchise, the Washington Nationals.

“The fact that these discussions are underway,” Monumental said in the statement, “is itself a testament to the fact that Washington is one of the most dynamic and important regions in the country.”

  • by Tim Newcomb
  • Published: October 4, 2017