Red Bull considers NBA entry with new franchise in Las Vegas

NEW YORK – Red Bull GmbH is considering bidding for a new National Basketball Association (NBA) team, according to people familiar with the matter, in a move that would significantly strengthen the energy drink giant’s sports empire.

The deliberations, currently focused on a new franchise in Las Vegas, are internal and at an early stage, the people said, asking not to be named discussing confidential information.

Price will be a considerable factor in any potential bid, they added.

“We generally do not comment on speculation about what we are or are not planning,” a Red Bull spokesman said.

An NBA expansion team could cost more than US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion), especially in Las Vegas, which has been trying to attract sports teams to bolster its allure as a tourist destination.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that the league will turn to expansion after it completes a new round of TV rights deals. Las Vegas and Seattle are considered favourites for new franchises, with Mexico City also a contender.

Red Bull has significant experience running sports teams after having invested billions in the past years in both athletes and franchises. It owns two Formula One teams and football clubs including Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga. 

Its recent deals include buying part of English football club Leeds United and a controlling stake in the Bora-Hansgrohe cycling team. An NBA team would likely be one of its biggest assets.

It is unclear how Red Bull would finance a bid, as it typically avoids taking on debt.

However, the company has continued to grow sales in its main product. It sold more than 12 billion cans of its caffeinated drink in 2023, with net sales exceeding €10 billion (S$14.5 billion) for the first time. Each of the last three NBA teams sold were valued at US$3 billion or more.

Red Bull would compete with a number of rival suitors, including current and former NBA players such as LeBron James. Samantha Holloway, whose father made billions as the co-founder of TPG Inc., is putting together a consortium for a Seattle-based NBA team.

An NBA team controlled by a consumer company would be unusual. Most franchises are owned by operating entities acting on behalf of high net-worth owners.


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