How to Acquire a Professional Sports Team

You were always the last to be picked when the neighborhood kids chose teams, but now you're a millionaire and revenge is sweet. The owner of a pro sports team is pretty much a god, trading players at a whim and even relocating the team if the desire strikes. And all you need to get in the game is money--a lot of money.

Evaluate your financial situation. To purchase a controlling share (51 percent) of a major sports franchise, a prospective owner needs a minimum net worth of approximately $250 million. If you don't have it on your own, consider forming a partnership with other potential buyers.

Research the playing field. Look at the 131 franchises that make up the major sports leagues, and figure out which teams are for sale or need investors. Poor performers can be a great bargain-- billionaire Mark Cuban bought the last-place Dallas Mavericks in 2000 for only $280 million.

Consider starting with a minor-league team. Minor-league sports franchises range from about $2.5 million for a Class A team to around $10 million for a AAA club.

Arrange to meet with the team's owner(s) or brokers. Most sports team negotiations are done at the dinner table: The prospective buyers and sellers talk sports over food, while the brokers and contract lawyers handle the fine print.

Hire a professional sports franchise brokerage firm, such as Game Plan (gameplanllc.com) or Bryan Cave (bryancave.com), to negotiate a selling price and finalize the acquisition.

Pack up and relocate your team to a competing city that offers better incentive subsidies, such as a new stadium. Pro team owners have the power to move teams, sell or trade players, and even determine ticket prices, but the political ramifications can be extreme (not to mention the damage to your popularity).