Macklemore (left) is a Seattle native while Marshawn Lynch made four Pro Bowls with the Seahawks.courtesy of seattle kraken
The Seattle Kraken have added two big names with local ties as limited partners, bringing on former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and Grammy-winning rapper Macklemore. They join an ownership group led by TPG Capital co-founder David Bonderman, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and longtime sports executive Tod Leiweke.
The valuation of the transactions was not disclosed, although the minority stakes are each believed to represent less than 1% of the team. Lynch made four Pro Bowls in seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks during his 12 years in the NFL, while Macklemore is a born-and-raised native of the city.
“It’s really, in so many ways, a dream come true to be a part of this organization, to be part of this ownership group. I can’t really believe it’s happening,” said Macklemore, who added that he first met with Leiweke, the team’s CEO, and his brother, Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, several years ago to discuss plans for Climate Pledge Arena. They stayed in touch over the following months and years. “Eventually the conversation led to getting involved in the ownership group of the Kraken and what that might look like. … The conversations kept happening and progressing, and it started to seem like something that was potentially attainable.”
Tod Leiweke said the team wasn’t looking for additional investors, but that Lynch and Macklemore both brought to the table with authentic connections, and a desire to further invest in, the team’s Seattle roots. “You meet those guys, and they truly love this town and they love the community. They want to make a difference,” said Leiweke. “They also bring a diverse audience to hockey, and that’s been a very important thing for us. … If you want to have diverse audiences, you need to have people who represent diverse points of view.”
The new co-owners have been involved with the Kraken from its early days, announcing some of the team’s selections at last year’s expansion draft. They’re now expected to have regular, hands-on involvement with the team, rather than simply serve as celebrity figureheads.
“The games are sold out, so I don’t know how much more buzz they need,” noted Macklemore, who will take a role in producing music events and advising on in-arena creative activations. His Bogey Boys golf apparel brand also wants to partner with the Kraken for a charity golf tournament. Lynch will be involved in planning community engagement events centered around diversity and inclusion, and he’s already eyeing ways to leverage team ownership.
“Marshawn wants to shadow me some day,” said Leiweke. “Now he gets to see the other side of this, and something important to him is that he wants to learn the business. He wants to understand how things get structured, how you build facilities. It’ll be a lot of fun to take him on the journey and get him up to speed, and it will be fun for our staff, too.”
Last year, Lynch joined the ownership group of the USL’s Oakland Roots, and in 2019 Macklemore was part of the group that took a stake in the Seattle Sounders. When asked if any further sports investing may lie ahead, Macklemore said there’s one team still on the wish list.
“This is the ownership group and the arena to bring the NBA back to Seattle when the NBA is ready,” said Macklemore. “I would put my money on it that we are going to have an NBA team, and we’re ready when the NBA is.”