NBL owner and executive owner Larry Kestelman has agreed to sell a portion of his majority shareholding in the club to Crocmedia, now joint major shareholders of the club. Kestelman will retain a 25% share.
“After helping to build the club to what it is today, the time has come to hand over to the next generation of owners and I’m delighted that Crocmedia has come on board to help drive it forward,” Kestelman said.
“Crocmedia is a dynamic, innovative and growing media company that will open up future opportunities for Melbourne United and the National Basketball League as the game continues to grow.
“There is huge momentum behind the game and this is a great endorsement of the strength and direction of the NBL as a sports and entertainment business.
“We believe we now have the best basketball league and entertainment product in the world outside of the NBA. Five of our NBL teams will play seven games in the NBA preseason and Australian NBA star Andrew Bogut will return to play the NBL next season,” Kestelman said.
Melbourne United will play the Philadelphia 76ers featuring Australian superstar and NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons in the US on September 28.
Pacific Star Network managing director and Crocmedia’s chief executive officer Craig Hutchison said the acquisition represented a unique and exciting opportunity.
“With incredibly strong participation numbers, attendances, broadcast audiences and interest in the game, there’s never been a better time to get involved,” Hutchison said.
“In just four years since it entered the NBL, Melbourne United has risen to the top of Australian basketball and is on its way to becoming one of the leading sports and entertainment franchises in the country.
“As a specialist sports media company, we are excited about generating new revenue opportunities through this unique partnership,” Hutchison added.
“It presents us an opportunity to offer our brand partners a unique end-to-end solution in the growing code, from community and grassroots, to the incredibly exciting match day environment and all the broadcast and content opportunities that sit around it.”
As part of the deal, Melbourne’s 1116 SEN will broadcast all Melbourne United home, away and finals games live and the station will become the parochial “radio” home of the club.
Melbourne United CEO Vince Crivelli welcomed Crocmedia: “This is an exciting day for Melbourne United as we look to build on our success and continue to widen our fan base.
“We’ve come off our most successful season with an NBL title and sold out games at Hisense Arena and, with Crocmedia on board, we now want to lead the club through its next exciting growth phase and build a club we can all be proud of.”
Top photo: Larry Kestelman and Craig Hutchison