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David Blitzer gives the Guardians stability with a path to majority ownership

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Cleveland Guardians
The Cleveland Guardians have been looking for a new minority owner since John Sherman bought the Kansas City Royals in 2019.

The Cleveland Guardians officially have a new minority owner. David Blitzer has a roughly 25% stake in the team that’s been owned by the Dolan family since 1999.

Commentator Terry Pluto says Cleveland had been searching for a minority owner since John Sherman left in 2019 to purchase the Royals.

"When John Sherman left, he still owned 15%. It was put in escrow. And Major League Baseball gave Paul Dolan a few years to find another minor investor. David Blitzer and his group came in and they bought out John Sherman's 15% and they bought a little extra, I think a little under 25% total. And Paul Dolan and the Dolan family own the other 75%," Pluto said.

Who is David Blitzer?

Blitzer is a senior executive of the private equity firm Blackstone Group. He’s a partner in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the holding company that includes the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ and a series of other sports assets.

"The question is, what is he doing here? He has pieces of all these different franchises. I believe this is the one a few times in his deals where it's a road to controlling interest, but it's not going to happen soon," Pluto said.

Not a magic bullet

The terms include an option for Blitzer to become majority owner in six years. And Pluto says his minority stake doesn't mean the team is suddenly going to be flush with cash.

"There'll be a little more money to work with, but it's not like the Guardians are going to go from having like the 25th payroll out of the 30 teams to the fifth or even the 15th. It might go up a little bit," Pluto said.

"I believe this is the one a few times in his deals where it's a road to controlling interest, but it's not going to happen soon."
Terry Pluto

Keeping the front office in tact

Pluto says the goal for the franchise is stability and developing young players. And it's a recipe that has worked.

"Basically, you're looking at a franchise that in the last nine years has had eight winning records, five playoff trips and one trip to the World Series. I mean, people say the Dolans are cheap. What is wrong with eight winning seasons and nine years and five trips to the playoffs? I mean, right now, maybe they have a winning season, maybe they don't. But I believe by 2023, this is a group that will," Pluto said.

The process to bring Blitzer on board took over a year. Pluto said Dolan wanted to make sure he found the right fit in an effort to keep the front office in tact.

"The strength of this organization has been the front office and manager Terry Francona, because that's how they've done more with less. But, there has to be a comfort level with the owner, and they have a tremendous comfort level with Paul Dolan. And Paul Dolan wanted to make sure there was a comfort level with David Blitzer," Pluto said.

Pluto says getting the Blitzer deal done is good news for the club.

"It takes some of the debt pressure off of the Dolan ownership. We'll see five or six years down the road what happens. Blitzer clearly has a lot of money, he's worth billions. He may move up and then suddenly, things will change. But for now, you're looking at a young team. You're looking at a team that's not looking to spend a ton of money. You're looking at a team that's going to try to develop its own players and be smart with this trades. And you're looking at a team with a really good front office and a manager," Pluto said.

Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.