GPE EXPANDS & ACQUIRES AMERICAN NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE
Consolidation of Professional Rugby Creates Formidable Competitor in Lucrative U.S. Sports Market
(LOS ANGELES) MAY 11, 2012 – Grand Prix Sports, a subsidiary of Grand Prix Entertainment, LLC, a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment company, announced the acquisition of The American National Rugby League (“AMNRL”), the governing body for the development of the “American football like” sport of Rugby League in the USA. The AMNRL is exclusively sanctioned by the Rugby League International Federation (“RLIF”).
“We’re very pleased to add the sport of Rugby League, led by our new partners at Star Group Communications, to Grand Prix’s sport investment portfolio.” Said Alan Rothenberg, Chairman of Grand Prix Sports. “The AMNRL has been making great strides in the development of Rugby League across America. Acquiring the exclusive rights to Rugby League is a major Grand Prix score on and off the field.”
Seen by many as a move to consolidate its growing influence on the “Father of American Football,” Grand Prix Founder William Tatham said, “Clearly International Rugby Board (“IRB”) Union Rugby is the NFL of world rugby, but RLIF Rugby League is a formidable foe both on and off the field and growing stronger every day. Thus, we felt this expansion was a very important move for Grand Prix in our efforts to package the “Contact Sport of the World” and compete in the United States “Sports Market of the World.”
Grand Prix is most known in rugby world for its pioneering efforts to organize professional Rugby Union Sevens through its strategic and exclusive joint venture partnership with USA Rugby. USA Rugby, an official member of the Unites States Olympic Committee as well as the Rugby World Cup's International Rugby Board, recently extended through 2018 Grand Prix’s exclusive U.S. sanction, license and global broadcast rights to own, operate and globally broadcast the professional sport of Rugby Sevens. Rugby Sevens will debut as a new Olympic sport at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games.
Tatham went on to say; “Trust me, Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution” couldn’t be more true in the shark infested waters of American sports business. We intend on doing far more than survive, and today’s acquisition makes Grand Prix ‘bigger, stronger and faster’. Besides, who wouldn’t want to team up with Russell Crowe?"
Hollywood film star Russell Crowe is Rugby League’s number one fan, owning the ‘South Sydney Rabbitohs’; a professional Rugby League franchise of the Australia based “National Rugby League”.
Former President of CBS Sports Neal Pilson, endorsed the move, stating, “While maintaining the independent integrity of the Rugby Union and Rugby League operations, yet folding them under one production umbrella, we at Grand Prix felt from a broadcast perspective this transaction was a smart move to avoid unnecessary confusion in a U.S. media market at a very critical time in rugby’s growth.” Pilson, a veteran sports dealmaker sits on Grand Prix Sports’ executive committee and exclusively represents Grand Prix’s U.S. Broadcast TV rights, concluded “Grand Prix’s new unified broadcast strategy will only help to expand Grand Prix’s already compelling broadcast opportunities and further the growth and popularity of the sport of rugby in the U.S.”
Grand Prix’s latest strategic competitive strike followed Grand Prix’s multi year – multi million dollar start up that culminated with the following 90 day countdown of achievements Grand Prix’s final countdown to its 2012 – 2013 kick off:
- Grand Prix sells the Grand Prix New York franchise interest for a U.S. rugby record $10,000,000 to businesswoman Carol Alyssa Childress
- Grand Prix names the NFL Network as Grand Prix’s exclusive broadcast partner for world class USA Rugby sanctioned professional rugby sevens championships
- Grand Prix names AEG’s Home Depot Center as Grand Prix’s home for world class USA Rugby sanctioned professional rugby sevens championships
- Grand Prix extends thru 2018 its USA Rugby awarded U.S. Exclusive Sanction, License and Global Broadcast Rights to own, operate and globally broadcast professional rugby sevens
- Grand Prix names Alan Rothenberg, Major League Soccer founder and former Olympic and FIFA World Cup official, as Grand Prix’s Chairman
- Grand Prix names Neal Pilson, former President of CBS Sports, overseeing Grand Prix domestic production and broadcast operations
- Grand Prix names Gary Marenzi, former President of MGM Worldwide Television, overseeing Grand Prix international production and distribution
- Grand Prix names Kelly Crabb, Olympic counsel and partner with Sheppard Mullin, as Grand Prix’s corporate counsel
This groundbreaking acquisition was further enhanced by the announcement that Grand Prix had also acquired the assets of World Rugby Alliance Holdings, LLC, including its wholly owned American National Rugby League (“AMNRL”). The AMNRL is the exclusive U.S. sanctioning body of RLIF governed Rugby League. Grand Prix’s AMNRL is also home of the USA TOMAHAWKS, the 11th ranked 2013 Rugby League World Cup contender. Other assets that will now fall under Grand Prix Entertainment include a popular web site for Rugby League called WeAreRugby.com and several Rugby related apparel brands for licensed merchandise.
Linda Rosanio, President of WRA Managing Partner Star Group Communications, and a long time friend of Grand Prix’s Tatham, stated "Star Group Communications believes Rugby has a great future in America, and today's announcement sends a message that Grand Prix Rugby is a unified force to be reckoned with both here and abroad.”
Grand Prix’s latest sports acquisition brings the world’s two rugby codes under one umbrella, expanding Grand Prix’s rugby rights holdings and generating additional content for Grand Prix’s domestic and global digital distribution network.
Gary Marenzi, former President of MGM Worldwide Television who heads Grand Prix Studios overseeing global distribution of all Grand Prix content, endorsed the move stating, “With Grand Prix now owning the multi media rights to both rugby codes, this acquisition will have a geometric impact on the menu of rugby content we can now offer rugby rich global markets via our multi media partners.”
Niu said of the merger, “This alignment of interests between The AMNRL and Grand Prix is going to have game-changing effects on the sport of Rugby League not just here in the United States but throughout the Rugby world and you will be hearing about our exciting Rugby League plans soon enough.”
Michael F. Tatham, Esq., and Michael D. Stain of Wells Fargo Bank Wealth Management Group facilitated the acquisition on behalf of Grand Prix Entertainment.
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About Grand Prix Entertainment
Grand Prix Entertainment is a diversified multi-media production and distribution company. For more information about Grand Prix Entertainment, please call Caryn at Premier Partnerships (310) 656–2500 x13, via email //Caryn%20@%20PremierPartnerships.com">Caryn @ PremierPartnerships.com, or visit www.grandprixentertainment.com.
About USA Rugby
Founded in 1975, USA Rugby is an official member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Rugby Board (IRB). The organization has approximately 98,000 members and is responsible for the development of the boys, girls, high school, collegiate and club rugby programs, and ultimately all of the national teams representing the U.S. in international competitions. USA Rugby's national headquarters is located in Boulder, Colo., and is run by full-time staff under the direction of current CEO and President of Rugby Operations Nigel Melville. For more information, please visit www.usarugby.org.
About the American National Rugby League
The American National Rugby League or AMNRL was founded in 1998 and is the governing body for the development of the sport of Rugby League in the United States and is an affiliate member of Rugby League International Federation. The league is comprised of teams nationwide including the USA Tomahawks, which recently beat the Jamaican national team in a World Cup qualifier match entitling the Tomahawks to participate in the Rugby League World Cup to be held in the UK in 2013. For more information about The AMNRL please visit: www.amnrl.com.
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