There has been an ownership change in the USL, as the Arizona United have been sold to Berke Bakay and a group of investors.
Among Bakay’s investors are Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy. Bakay, the CEO and president of Kona Grill, is purchasing the team from Arizona United founder Kyle Eng. In a related move, David Farca has been appointed as the Arizona United’s president.
“We couldn’t be more excited at the opportunity we have with Arizona United by bringing together a who’s who of business leaders in the Phoenix area,” said Bakay. “Soccer has always been in my blood. My interest and involvement in the soccer world has been positively influenced by one of my uncles serving as the Vice-Chairman of the famed Galatasaray club in Istanbul.”
Joining Bakay and the new ownership group is Mark Detmer, the Managing Director of JLL; Tim Riester, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RIESTER Advertising; Dave Stearns, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Connect Wireless; Jim Scussel, the Co-Founder of Four Peaks Brewing Company; Richard Hauser, the President and Owner of Capital Real Estate, Inc.; and Brandon McCarthy, the veteran Major League Baseball player currently pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Farca, who was born and raised in Mexico City, is president of International Business Group and in 2015 was appointed President of the Board of Directors of the Arizona-Mexico Commission by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
Outgoing Arizona United Founder and Co-Chairman Kyle Eng, made the announcement today with USL CEO Alec Papadakis.
“Launching Arizona United SC, the state’s only professional soccer franchise, ranks among my career highlights,” said Eng. “When we created the club in 2014, I envisioned a role as caretaker of a soccer side that would be a source of pride for the community. But I always planned to pass the torch to new owners who have a deeper passion for this great sport.
“The new ownership is a strong mix of local business leaders who are committed to growing the game to new heights. Soccer is the ultimate team sport, and I am grateful for the efforts of our players, staff and sponsors and the unwavering support of our faithful fans, many whom I got to know personally. The future of professional soccer in Arizona is bright. I look forward to joining the supporter’s group and cheering Arizona United on for many years to come,” continued Eng.
“I want to give credit and am very grateful to Kyle for his work with Arizona United SC since 2014 when he founded the team at a time when the USL was just beginning to expand west,” Papadakis said. “We look forward to working with Arizona United’s new ownership group who recognize the club’s potential and have already made a commitment to raise the level of this team on and off the field.”
Brett M. Johnson, who has served as the team’s Co-Chairman and Alternate Governor and Ballertronix, the ownership group led by two-time Grammy Award winner Diplo, entertainment lawyer David Rappaport, Kevin Kusatsu and Pete Wentz, as well as other Limited Partners will remain with the team.
“Kyle Eng unquestionably saved professional soccer in Phoenix when he launched Arizona United out of the ashes of Phoenix Wolves FC,” stated Johnson and Rappaport jointly. “We are excited to continue that work with our new partners and do everything in our power to make Arizona United the most popular professional sports team in the Valley.”
About Arizona United SC’s new ownership group
- Bakay has been the CEO and President of Kona Grill since January 2012 and is the Founder of BBS Capital Management. Kona Grill, is a publicly traded restaurant chain listed on the NASDAQ (KONA) headquartered in Scottsdale with 41 locations in 21 states and Puerto Rico.
- As Managing Director of JLL, Detmer serves as Head of Industrial Capital Markets for the West Region of the United States and specializes in commercial real estate services and investment management.
- Since founding RIESTER in Phoenix during 1989, Riester has been the firm’s CEO and chief activist. Under his leadership, RIESTER was listed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America for four consecutive years, Advertising Age listed the firm among the “20 Agencies to Watch in America,” and Forbes named RIESTER among the “Top 100 Global Ad Agencies That Know Social Media and Google.”
- Stearns is a Co-Founder of Connect Wireless, which has more than 70 locations in seven western states, and currently serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. He has created, bought or sold 14 different companies throughout his career.
- Scussel co-founded Four Peaks Brewing Company in 1996 and grew it into the leading craft brewer in the state of Arizona. Four Peaks was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2015.
- Hauser founded Capital Real Estate, Inc., a commercial real estate services company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2001. The operations of Capital Real Estate, Inc. and its related entities encompass a full range of real estate related services, including land acquisition, land development, retail development, net lease development, construction and general contracting, and both internal and external investment holdings and market disposition of commercial properties.
- McCarthy, whose primary residence is in Phoenix, is a veteran of 11 Major League Baseball seasons and has pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2015.
- Johnson is Founder and Managing Partner of Benevolent Capital. He has led numerous successful technology businesses including: Zealot Networks, Forward Industries, and Targus, the leading global provider of mobile computing solutions.
Image courtesy of Arizona United