Norcross company buys Harlem Globetrotters photo

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hershend Family Entertainment Corp., a Norcross-based company that operates Stone Mountain Park and Dollywood in Tennessee, said it has acquired the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

HFE, which owns or operates 26 entertainment properties across the country, said Harlem Globetrotters International Inc. will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Financial terms of the deal with Shamrock Capital Advisors were not disclosed.

HFE’s businesses include theme parks, aquariums, hospitality businesses and tours. The company owns Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., and operates Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta. The company also has entertainment business interests in New Jersey, Kentucky, New York and Colorado.

The Phoenix-based Globetrotters team, founded in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five, is known for its athleticism, comedy and signature them, a whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

The exhibition team performs more than 400 events worldwide each year, HFE said. Players are touring Australia this month and will be back in Atlanta at Philips Arena in mid-March.

HFE said the deal with Shamrock, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, will allow HFE to cross-market attractions to reach a larger audience, the company said.

“The team is coming off its best touring year ever, and this acquisition helps HFE diversify into a new but complementary business,” Joel Manby, HFE’s president and CEO, said in announcing the deal.

The Globetrotters employ more than 90 people, including players, staff and coaches. HFE said current management and the player roster will remain the same.

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