Hillbillies and Harlem might seem like the outline for a television sitcom to some, but it’s considered good business by the people who own Silver Dollar City and operate Dollywood, among other entertainment venues. Herschend Family Entertainment has bought the Harlem Globetrotters, the world-famous basketball team.
Company vice-chairman Peter Herschend of Branson says the deal is a departure for the company, but a good one. “Our corporate mission statement is very simple,” he says, “Our mission is to create memories worth repeating. If you go at the Harlem Globetrotters acquisition from that perspective, you will see in a hurry that they are in the business of creating memories and those memories are worth repeating.”
Herschend says the team is the first Herschend property that is not themed, ticketed, and land-based.
He says team management approached Herschend Family Entertainment and said the team would like to be owned by “an operating company…in the business of entertainment” rather than by a financial holding company. He says a decision was made “in a fairly short time frame” to purchase the team from Shamrock Capital Advisors, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm.
The Harlem Globetrotters were formed in Chicago and played their first game in 1927. They did not actually perform in Harlem, however, until 1968.
They have performed in 122 countries on six continents and have won about 98.5% of their games, many against the Washington Generals, considered the greatest losers in basketball history. The Generals ended a 2,495-game losing streak by defeating the Globetrotters 100-99 in 1971. They have not won a game against them since.
Herschend Family Entertainment began when the Herschend family opened Silver Dollar City near Branson in 1960. It calls itself “the largest family-owned themed attractions corporation in the U. S.” It owns or is an operating partner with 26 properties in ten states.
The purchase price has not been made public.