The Boston Celtics are currently tied 1-1 with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. After years of stagnation, the franchise is starting to become the dynasty it used to be. Are the Celtics publicly traded?
Very few professional sports teams are publicly traded. One that you can invest in is the New York Knicks, but that would be indirect, by investing in Madison Square Garden Corporation, a publicly traded company that owns the basketball team and the New York Rangers.
Are the Boston Celtics publicly traded?
The Celtics were at one point one of the few teams in the NBA that were publicly traded. However, in 2002 the franchise went private. The team went public in 1986, pricing its shares at $18.50. It was owned by Boston Celtics LP, a group that was formed by a group of businessmen: Don F. Gaston, Alan N. Cohen, and Paul R. Dupee, Jr.
The history of the Celtics as a public company
Gaston served as chairman of the Boston Celtics from 1983 to 1993. He was also executive vice president for Gulf and Western Industries, which specialized in manufacturing and resource production and was one of the top conglomerates in the U.S. until ceasing operations in 1996. Before having a stake in the Celtics, Cohen held shares of Madison Square Garden Corporation, which owned the Knicks and the Rangers.
Cohen served as chairman and CEO of MSG Corp., and then in 1978, he joined a group of investors to acquire the New Jersey Nets. But the New Jersey native didn’t stop there, as he sold his Nets stake in 1983 to purchase the Celtics with Gaston and Dupee. Cohen played a significant role in evolving the NBA, serving as chairman of the league’s board of governors. He helped introduce salary caps to teams and suggested revolving advertisements be placed in the courtside area of NBA games.
Dupee also worked at Gulf and Western, where he formed a strong relationship with Gaston. After graduating from Brown University, Dupee was offered a position at the company, but also had a strong sports background. When the three businessmen purchased the Celtics in 1983, Dupee became the first Boston native to own the Celtics since its founder, Walter Brown.
Before the trio of men purchased the Celtics in 1983, the franchise was going to be sold to Steve Belkin, a transit business entrepreneur. But when Belkin was accused of being affiliated with nefarious activities, the deal fell through and Gaston took advantage of the opportunity.
Why did the Celtics go private?
When the three businessmen purchased the Celtics, the team was at its peak, and NBA legend Larry Bird was a basketball icon.
Winning two championships within three seasons, and having Bird being a mega star, the Celtics were one of the most valuable sports teams in the world. So, the three owners capitalized on the success and took the team public. But after winning those two championships, the team lost its star power when Bird retired in 1992. After years of struggle, the team was sold for $360 million to a group of investors, with shares closing at $11.35.