Via SportBusiness

New York-based private equity firm GF Capital, owners of two Association of Tennis Professionals events and the National Lacrosse League’s New York Riptide, have rebranded as GF Sports & Entertainment and hired veteran sports industry executive Shawn Tilger as president.

Tilger, who was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers from 2003-19, had been an adviser to GF Capital for more than a year. But the rebranding and retention of Tilger to the larger role comes with an undisclosed cash infusion into the operation to grow the company’s portfolio.

“As we continued to work together more closely, we saw real opportunities to scale the overall operation,” Tilger said. “There are a lot of interesting properties out there that meet our investment criteria.”

Tilger did not detail any specific investment plans for the company. But as the Covid-19 pandemic continues, he said the entire sports and entertainment industry is undergoing a broad reset that will change not only investment targets but how fans consume sports both at venues and in the home.

“We are looking at number of sports properties that have achieved a level of maturity and that with the infusion of capital could grow more substantially than they have been,” Tilger said. “We have a real opportunity to be very nimble, and combine GF’s investment experience with my experience as an operator.”

Tilger will be based primarily in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area where he’s been, but travel frequently to GF Sports & Entertainment’s New York headquarters and elsewhere around the country to the company’s various holdings. He also now holds an equity stake in GF Sports & Entertainment.

In addition to the Riptide, GF Sports & Entertainment owns the ATP’s New York Open and Truist Atlanta Open, and has stakes in two national touring shows with the AKC Meet the Breeds dog show in partnership with the American Kennel Club and Wolf Pack Ninjas.

Tilger, who in his prior role was also chief operating officer and governor for the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings, initially became acquainted with GF Sports & Entertainment chairman and chief executive Gary Fuhrman and co-founders and managing directors Erik Baker and Neil Shapiro through operations of the lacrosse league.