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NFL Aims for Financial Diversity with Loan Deal

Much has been written this year about the National Football League’s lack of diversity in key leadership positions, the New York Times reported that about 56% of NFL players are Black. But out of the league’s 32 franchises, only three have Black head coaches (9%), and five have Black team presidents (16%). League officials know the situation and have publicly encouraged diversity in front-office and coaching hires.

The NFL also aims to bring more diversity to its financial dealings – which is considerable. The combined value of all 32 NFL teams is roughly $143 billion, according to data cited on the BetMGM website. With all that money floating around, there’s no shortage of demand for financial services.

Photo Courtesy Adrian Curiel

As part of its effort to promote diversity around all aspects of its business – including finance – the NFL in June announced that it will borrow $78 million from 16 Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and minority- and women-focused banks.

According to a press release, the league worked with Bank of America to identify the financial institutions that provide “vital investments to diverse individuals, businesses, and communities,” according to a press release. Among the goals is providing “new economic opportunities” usually only available to larger banks. 

“[The NFL and Bank of America] share a commitment to advancing diversity & inclusion and economic opportunity, and through this effort, we will help provide these institutions with new opportunities to engage with the League and the local Clubs in their communities,”

Elliott McCabe, Managing Director of Bank of America’s Sports Finance & Advisory Group, said in a statement

Photo Courtesy NFL

The deal will generate “tier 1 capital” for the banks and CDFIs, CNBC reported. The National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF) estimates that participating institutions’ lending power will increase by millions of dollars through banking fees and interest.

Loan terms were not disclosed. However, one NFL official – Joe Siclare, executive vice president of finance and league policy – told CNBC that terms are at “market rates” and that the league plans to “fully draw” on the loan over the next three years.

“These banks play a vital role in our overall economy, and many of them are in markets that our teams play, so there is good synergy there,” Siclare said. “When large corporations like the National Football League can partner and provide reliable revenue streams, it helps those banks continue to do the great work they do in their communities.”

The NBBF served as a consultant to the NFL and Bank of America in putting the deal together. 

Photo Courtesy Bank of America 

“Minority-focused banks, and especially Black-owned or operated banks, are trusted community partners that are more important now than ever given the challenges we are seeing across the country in banking,” NBBF Co-Founder Ashley Bell said.

“The NFL’s decision to look for solutions beyond Wall Street and to the centers of hope along Main Street and MLK Jr. Drives will move the needle as others follow their lead.”

Banks and financial institutions from 12 states and Washington, D.C., were selected for the NFL deal. As CNBC noted, the deal followed similar efforts in other sports leagues – including a $35 million loan with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks for a practice facility in 2020 and a $25 million loan with Major League Soccer in 2022. The NBBF and a syndicate of Black-owned banks arranged both deals.

“Doing a deal with an entity like the NFL, that helps your brand,” Bell told CNBC. “It helps people understand that you can do a complex deal. So, if you can do a deal with the NFL, surely you can trust that bank with your home loan. Surely you can trust that bank with a line of credit for your business, your church, your faith organization. You can go to them and trust that you’ll get the best service.”


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