What is Dave Checketts up to?

June 29, 2011, 5:39 PM UTC

The former New York Knicks boss is raising a private equity fund to invest in pro sports teams.

Yesterday I noticed a regulatory filing for Checketts Investment Partners Fund LP, a private equity fund seeking to raise upwards of $250 million. It already had $50 million in the bank, with Checketts listed as the only principal.

For the uninitiated, Checketts once was president of the NY Knicks, and later became CEO of Madison Square Garden (which owns the Knicks, Rangers, television networks and other assets). He currently runs SCP Worldwide, a sports investment and management company that has pieces of pro sports teams like the St. Louis Blues (NHL) and Real Salt Lake (MLS), plus related assets like sports talk radio stations and online fantasy leagues.

So I called up SCP, because its phone number was listed on the filing. I spoke with SCP managing director Steven Potter, who declined to comment due to regulatory restrictions. He did confirm, however, that Checketts Investment Partners Fund is a new effort, rather than just an LP codification of what SCP already was up to. Then I did a Google search, and found a DLA Piper attorney whose website bio describes Checketts Investment Partners Fund as “the first private equity fund to invest in professional sports franchises and related entertainment properties.”

I immediately began putting together pieces in my head: Checketts is raising a fund to invest in pro sports teams, just two days after ESPN reported that Checketts had been hired as a consultant with the Detroit Pistons – a team recently bought by Platinum Equity and Platinum founder Tom Gores. Not only were the Pistons part of that deal, but so were “related entertainment properties” like an outdoor music venue. Does this mean Checketts is joining as a minority partner?

No, it does not. In fact, the ESPN story was faulty. Platinum actually hired Checketts and SCP as consultants when first considering the Pistons deal, and the engagement is now nearing its conclusion. There are no talks about an investment. Guess that means he’ll be free to put his new fund’s money into some other NBA franchise…