"It's not as profitable as making Titanic, but it's still a good business," says Howard Nuchow, executive vice president of Mandalay Sports Entertainment, which owns the Dayton and Las Vegas franchises in addition to its joint-venture with the Texas Rangers' parent company to start the RoughRiders. "Not only can you hopefully turn a profit," Nuchow says, "but the numbers are a whole lot more predictable than the movie business."
Nuchow mentions Titanic because Mandalay's sister company, Mandalay Pictures, makes movies. Another produces television shows. Each is owned in part by Peter Guber, a Hollywood mover and shaker who once ran the Sony movie empire (where his credits included Batman, Basic Instinct, and Sleepless in Seattle).

Mandalay is not the only sports outsider. Utah's Elmore Sports Group, which evolved from travel and marketing companies, operates six franchises. New York's Goldklang Group owns six teams. Capitol Broadcasting owns Durham as well as a Class A club. Throw in the teams owned by their major league affiliates and those whose owners have some sort of relationship with another group (a Class A team in suburban Los Angeles is operated by a Mandalay partner, for example), and as much as one-third of the minor leagues is run by big-time companies.
"And that's the reason they've been so successful," says Johnson. "First and foremost, they're business people. They aren't the guy who wants a minor league team because he had a dream of playing in the major leagues or the guy who wants a team to save it for his hometown. They want to make a profit."


kenny braun is a fine-art and commercial photographer who lives in austin, texas. his clients include rolling stone, london times magazine, texas monthly, fast company, and us weekly.

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